Growing up, I was always forced to go outside and be active. Soccer, football, basketball, tennis -every sport under the sun was forced upon me by my father, hoping that maybe I’d take to one and have a Nike endorsement by 23. Alas, I went through the motions just barely making it. It was easier in football for me to look good, because momentum was usually on my side, but all it took was a taller, bigger player to be put in front of me and I’d be on the ground, spitting out my mouthpiece and chucks of humble pie.
Point is, post high school I was very aware of what I was good at, and what I was not. What was I good at? Writing jokes and poetry. So I spent most of my undergrad career writing for a satirical newspaper and attending various open mics. It made me happy for a long time, and I was able to be my blerdy self, and make people laugh or snap without lifting a barbell. So I had a really warm moment when I started watching this new show that reminded me of my situation.
Have you heard of Mob Psycho? If you don’t know, you better ask somebody! It’s one of those anime shows that are criminally short (only 12 episodes), but has action sequences that’ll slap you in the face like a bite of Mango Habanero wings. The main character is Mob, a middle schooler who is Saitama in the face, rockin a Beatles do’. He uses his innate psychic powers to put the torch to spirits terrorizing the city.
Being an X-Man and a Ghostbuster would seem like a pretty sweet gig to anyone on paper, but ya boy still isn’t satisfied. See, his powers couldn’t keep his childhood sweetheart from curving him for the quintessential jock. To make matters worse, his psychic vibes don’t help him intellectually at all. He can broil a restless spirit with a thought, but that same power won’t tell him when and where to carry the 3 in math class.
And then it hit me. Swap out psychic powers for creativity, and this show hits close to home. Now, this is by no means an attempt to paint artists as these beings with god-like capabilities, because they have they ability to perpetuate the same type of toxic masculinity that’s rampant in athletic circles. However, this show does serve as a good example of why people should appreciate the gifts that they have, and to take ownership of that gift before anyone else has a chance to take advantage of you.
A huge problem of the show is that Arataka Reigen -a self-proclaimed exorcist he works for after school- has ZERO psychic ability to track ghosts, so he tricks Mob into doing all the heavy lifting while taking 99% of the commission. How many stories have you heard of artists being taken for a ride by managers whose only artistic talent lies in crafting story after story to convince brilliant but vulnerable artists to sign on the dotted line? Straight up, Arataka is the Jerry Heller to Mob’s Eazy E. I’ve been in a position where I’ve been asked to perform poetry at certain venues, and when it came time to get my just dues, the promoter gave me what amounted to a shrug and an explanation (not even an apology.) So, you need to know that what you have is special, and you need to protect it.
Another aspect of realizing your talent is that there are people who wish they could be like you, so don’t take it for granted. At the beginning of the series, Mob’s younger brother is extremely popular at school, but secretly wishes he had Mob’s psychic powers because…they’re frickin’ psychic powers. I know people in real life who started high school excelling in damn near every sport you threw at them, but had a hidden passion for the stage. I know people who picked the stage because the field wasn’t the right fit for them no matter how hard they tried. Your talent is your own and you have to protect it, hone it, because some are not as fortunate or driven as you may be.
Let’s talk about Mob’s choice of crew for a minute. When he first started school, he had the opportunity to link up with the folks at the local psychic club, a group of like-minded individuals that would encourage him and help him on his path to better understanding his powers. Instead, dudeman hit the Heisman on all of them in order to join the Body Improvement Club. See, another thing about shaping your craft is kicking it with people who have similar goals. You can bounce ideas off them, network, and build up your own skills. Your improv bars ain’t getting better if you stay rolling with the company rugby team every week. In college, I surrounded myself with poets and columnists, and I was able to find my own personal voice listening to how others found theirs. It’s crucial in going hard with what you do. Find the right crew, find the right you.
The wildest part of Mob’s power is how he suppresses it by showing little to no emotion throughout the day. However, when the accumulation of his emotions reaches 100%, the strongest one he’s feeling at the moment triggers a giant psychic release of his full potential. That used to be me in high school, winding myself so tight I wouldn’t let anyone in, until someone pushed me over the edge and I’d lash out in anger. Maybe if I’d done more personal writing in high school, I wouldn’t have been so high strung.
Mob Psycho reminded me that it’s okay to let go of your emotions. It’s okay to take pride in what you’re good at. There’s always someone who wishes they could do what you do. Everyone is good at something, you just need to find what that is for you, and do it. 100%.
Author: Lorenzo Simpson
Editor: Juwairiyah Khan