Tohru Honda: My Role Model

Is this deja vu or what? Didn’t I just fangirl over my role model yesterday? Fortunately, for you, I have many.

I can divide my many role models into categories based on their personality traits and characteristics I admire the most. Zora Neale Hurston was a curious woman, just like me, and placed a high value on art and literature.

Pink’s music has always resonated with my internal thoughts and struggles, despite how different we may seem on the outside. I value honesty and so does Maya Angelou. 

I love learning about finances, and learning better ways to manage my money. Which points to Tiffany Aliche (a.k.a. thebudgetnista), who is very frank in her approach to financial education while also showing a deep understanding of the struggles many people face when it comes to our finances. 

This list can go on for quite some time, but for now this post will focus on one of my fictional role models: Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a role model is a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.

Throughout the plot of Fruits Basket, the Soma family learns to come to terms with their complex, dysfunctional, and, quite frankly, abusive family dynamic. They are better able to cope with their trauma and continue to grow as the story progresses. Not all of them like Tohru – as much as the others – but they are grateful to her. Her unconditional love and compassion towards everyone, allow the characters to learn to love themselves. 

Her two closest friends, Saki and Arisa, were the first to experience this unbelievably kind girl. Despite her own troubles – her mother’s death, abusive family, and financial standing – she prioritizes the people she loves.

I always wanted to be like Tohru. I was a crybaby and excluded by my peers, just like she was. I was raised by a single mother, just like she was. I’m also hypersensitive and optimistic, just like she is.

She was able to empathize with others and connect with people, to help them, but also to help herself. She’s a helper. She has the most fun when she feels like she’s contributing something good, and always worries about her mistakes.

She’s a hard worker, balancing school and work, and trying to handle her problems on her own. It was her load to bear. I didn’t realize how problematic this behavior is until a few months ago. 

Both she and I were overly optimistic, and engaged in toxic positivity. According to Konstantin Lukin Ph.D. this is “the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life. It means only focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions.”

Essentially, it’s my “good vibes only” attitude. I never thought it was okay to feel bad. I was always told that I was overreacting and that I should just get over my negative experiences, but this way of thinking is wrong. 

At this point in the new version 2019 of the Fruits Basket anime, Tohru hasn’t come to terms with her mother’s death. She hasn’t allowed herself to grieve and is instead focusing on the Soma family.

The feeling of loneliness and abandonment are hard to process through, especially since she has to worry about paying for her education and making sure she graduates high school.

When you have goals that require too much of your time and energy, you don’t want to think about your feelings, you want to believe that you can get through anything and everything all on your own with hard work. 

She was also overworking herself, because she didn’t want to be a burden. Her mother did everything by herself, so she thoughts she needed to do the same. I also suffer from John-Henryism, but it’s a work in progress. 

Sometimes wanting something isn’t good enough. Sometimes your hard work, time, and energy aren’t enough. There are other obstacles in your way that you have no control over.

Sometimes you need to accept that it’s too much, and accept your frustration, anger, and bitterness. That’s the only way to work through the feelings after all. Tohru is able to help others do this, but is scared to take her own advice. Even so, she is my role model. She has amazing qualities, despite her shortcomings. 

If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have received the inspiration I needed to be comfortable with my weird self.

The concept that no matter what I do, there will always be someone who doesn’t like me; the concept that everyone is born selfish, but can learn to become kind; and, the concept that we can’t always see the good in us until others point it out are all lessons I learned from Tohru.

Yes, she’s a fictional character (who was written by Natsuki Takaya), but life lessons can come from anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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