Illustrator spreads the word about a happiness that comes from choosing not to get married or have kids.
For several decades, there was a rather standard course laid out for people in Japanese society: finish your education at 20 or 22, get married by your mid-20s, and have children shortly thereafter. In recent years, though, there’s been a change, as an increasing number of individuals lead unmarried and/or childless lives.
While that same scenario is unfolding in many countries, Japanese society has long found greater virtue in group prosperity than personal fulfillment, and so the lifestyles of Japan’s happy singles and childless citizens can be extremely hard for their elders to wrap their heads around. This can lead to unsolicited advice and unwanted concern, and to literally illustrate the mindset of those who choose to not follow the traditional path through adulthood, Japanese artist and Twitter user Keisuke Sawaguchi (@tricolorebicol1) has created the following manga (translation below).
さわぐち けいすけ (@tricolorebicol1) June 03, 2017
People who get married are admirable. If they have kids they’re even more admirable. Unconsciously, there are really a lot of people who think this way. Because of that…
…some people says things like this like it’s no big deal.
“You’re still single?”
“You’re not dating anyone? That’s no good. You have to make more of an effort in your love life. When I was your age…”
“If you’re still not married at this age, I think it’s a problem.”
“Congratulation on getting married! So when are you having kids?”
“Don’t you want kids?”
“If you don’t have kids, you’ll be lonely in the future. You’ll really regret not having them.”
They don’t mean any offense, but that just makes it worse.
People who aggressively pressure others about “marriage” and “kids” do so through many different phrases, but they don’t think anything of it. They’re basing it off their own experiences, which they think are the most powerful weapons, but which are actually flimsy foundations.
– An old lady from the neighborhood appears! –
“Take this! In my experiences, in my experiences…!”
I started working as a freelance illustrator, and as a result, I’ve met lots of different people.
A lot of them aren’t married, and have no kids, but all of them are thoroughly enjoying their lives.
Man in his late 60s: “I enjoy my job so much that before I realized it, I’d gotten this old. I don’t have any regrets.”
26-year-old women: “The people around me give me a lot of flak for it, but I don’t want to devote any of my energy to marriage.”
Woman in her early 40s: “I’ve never really thought about marriage. But I’m taking a trip to France tomorrow! Do you wanna come too?”
There’s a happiness you can get from married life.
And there’s definitely a happiness you can only get from having kids. But…
I choose not to get married or have kids. And, of course, there’s a happiness that comes from that. Each is its own separate happiness, which only the individual who makes that choice will feel. It’s a happiness just for that individual.
These days, a lot of enemies you don’t really need to fight with rear their heads…
– An elderly coworker appears! –
“Take this! In my experience…hey, wait!”
“Huh? Without realizing it, I’ve made it this far on my own.”
…but even still, they have no right to criticize you (but at the same time, it’s almost impossible to keep them from voicing their criticisms).
Whether you’re single or married, do more of what makes you happy. We should be allowed to enjoy even what others might call “a meaningless life.”
While the impetus for Sawaguchi’s manga may be a lifestyle that not everyone agrees with, his comic struck a chord with Japanese Internet users. In just a matter of days, it’s been retweeted over 60,000 times, showing that while the choices he’s made may not before everyone, many people can also see an upside to the path he’s chosen to walk in life.