Letting Go

I have mentioned it before, but I was a pretty big “weeb” back in the day. And honestly, I still am – but it was a much greater obsession in my teens. I collected manga for a long time, and managed to complete many series, mostly of the shoujo genre – which are manga aimed more toward girls. Fruits Basket is probably the most notable – and my favorite manga series to this day – but I also collected some lesser known series, or shorter ones. It was partially out of love for the books but I also was a bit of a completionist.

However, in a decluttering effort, I have been trying to sell some things and earn some extra cash. Quarantine has been rough, y’all – plus I used to watch a lot of Hoarders and don’t want to end up with a house full of junk because I do have obsessive tendencies and am a bit neurotic. And though that chapter of my life is mostly over – I still like manga, though I don’t really collect it any more – it was unexpectedly difficult to let go of things I once loved so much.

For reference, I had about 300+ volumes of various series. I am now down to under 50, and have a couple of series left to sell.

I am actually still trying to sell Happy Cafe, which is OOP, if anyone is interested.

The upside to all of this is that I did not know, as an awkward manga-loving teen, that my completionist ways would lead to me owning many series that have since got out of print or become quite rare, and are thus being sought by collectors. I haven’t been raking in the cash, per se, but I definitely made more than I spent! And I’m glad I could make some current collectors happy.

Some of those books have inspired me in ways that linger to this day, and though I no longer own them, I will remember the lessons they taught. Lovely Complex taught me that insecurities and differences can bring people together as much as it breaks them apart. Tokyo Mew Mew introduced me to the “magical girl” genre. Fruits Basket taught me that love is beautiful, and ugly, and kindness can always prevail over hatred. Beauty Pop taught me to follow my dreams and nurture my talents. Absolute Boyfriend taught me about the joys, and pitfalls, of first love, and the pain of loss.

Boxing them up and shipping them off was hard, and I almost backed out of a few transactions. But at the same time, it has been freeing to let go – to make it so someone else can find joy in the books I adored as a teen trying to make my way in the world. Although, between you and me… I am replacing my old Tokyopop Fruits Basket volumes with the more recent collector’s editions. Because they are beautiful, and I really do love the series.

Perhaps I’ll go through my Funko pops next…

Let Go

The other night, while watching The Graham Norton Show, I decided to heat up a mug of milk in the microwave in order to make some hot cocoa. With marshmallows, of course; I’m not a savage.

As it turns out, the mug I was using – a BB8-themed Star Wars mug – doesn’t work like most of the other mugs in my collection. Typically, I don’t have to worry about the mug getting too hot because the handle doesn’t heat up in conjunction with the rest of the mug. Therefore, I can usually grab the mug with my bare hand and it won’t burn me, even after being in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. But I must be a novice when it comes to mug dynamics, because with this particular mug, the handle did, in fact, heat up.

Unaware of this fact, I grabbed the mug with my bare hand and lifted it out of the microwave. While the mug was clutched in my hand, suspended in midair, searing pain surged through my fingers. My first instinct was to tighten my hold on the handle, which only made the burning worse. By that point, I had two options. Either let the mug continue to burn me as I set it safely down on the counter-top, or drop it, likely break it, and save my poor hand from continued suffering.

In this particular instance, I chose to bite back an agonized squeal and set the mug carefully on the counter. Mercifully, I managed to get my hand under some cool water and there wasn’t a¬†lasting, significant burn; it just stung for a bit afterward. The eventually finished cocoa did help soothe the pain, in that regard.

But sometimes, things don’t work the way they’re meant to. Hot cocoa cups get too hot to hold and fingers get hurt in the process. And sometimes, it’s okay to let go.

I mean, the whole mug situation aside, letting go isn’t always a bad thing. “Letting go” doesn’t have to equate with “giving up” – I mean sure, sometimes it does mean that, and people let go or give up for no good reason at all. However, there doesn’t have to be shame in recognizing when something just isn’t going to work, especially if, in the long term, it’s only going to cause harm or further difficulty. Letting go might result in shards of glass scattered on the floor or a puddle of hot milk at your feet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a proper solution if it’s done within reason, like to prevent something worse.

I am, generally, a proponent of honoring commitments, and following through on any sort of project or task that I’ve set out to do – and, often, it is best to see those obligations through. But there are a handful of times where things got tough, situations shifted, circumstances changed, and I would have been better off dropping something rather than seeing it through to the end. Take my high school AP Government class, for example; I took it because history is usually a strong subject for me, but it was insanely difficult, I didn’t understand a lot of it, I barely scraped a B, my stress levels skyrocketed, and I didn’t even bother taking the AP test at the end of the year because I knew I wouldn’t score high enough to earn credit. Pride be damned, I should have dropped down to a non-AP class and it would have saved me a lot of time and frustration.

And while sometimes the “correct” solution is only made clear through hindsight, other times, it is obvious when something isn’t working, and it can’t be helped in the end. Sometimes, consistent hard work won’t earn the desired results. In those cases, what else can you do but let go, when continuing on will only make matters worse? ¬†Letting go doesn’t have to mean giving up – and often, it can even take more courage to let go than it does to persevere.