“An important thing to remember is, just because a person has problems communicating, doesn’t mean that person doesn’t want to communicate with others.”
This quote highlights the underlying message of a recently released anime, Komi Can’t Communicate. The story follows our 2 main characters, Tadano and Komi, who are classmates just starting out in high school. Tadano just doesn’t want to stand out while Komi is the school flower yet finds it hard to even utter a word to anyone, facing a crippling social anxiety.
Here are some things about social anxiety we can understand from this anime:
1) Anyone can have social anxiety
Komi is introduced as the most popular girl due to her looks – everyone fawns over her and tries to talk to her. You would think someone like that has a high self-esteem, yet we eventually find out how awkward Komi comes across when she has a conversation with Tadano for the first time.
It is very easy to assume that only people who are physically alone most of the time are the ones likely to be socially anxious, but we need to recognise that it can happen to any of us. Being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely, and you can be in a group of people yet feel lonely.
Which brings us to the next point:
2) Social anxiety can be disruptive in different ways
Komi starts to open up to Tadano, communicating only through writing on a chalkboard. It seems like a hilarious comedic effect to make her character be so anxious she can’t even physically speak, but she eventually reveals the depth of the situation.
Just like her, people dealing with social anxiety have a want to connect with others, yet find it hard to do so. They end up being unable to make friends, and come across as unsociable or even intimidating. Her popularity then becomes meaningless and one-way, when she can’t even make friends because of her social anxiety.
3) A little patience and understanding goes a long way
Initially, Komi was embarrassed and wanted to end her chalk conversation with Tadano quickly, but he took the initiative to also reply to her in chalk writing. This becomes the motivation for the rest of the story: to help Komi find 99 other friends.
This gesture and effort by Tadano to match Komi’s communication style is significant for someone with social anxiety to know that they are accepted. We take for granted the ability to speak anytime we want, and each step is important on the road to finding out the best way to connect with others.
While Komi Can’t Communicate takes a humorous approach towards social anxiety, it definitely highlights the importance of acknowledging our very human need to communicate with others – if you do notice someone like Komi, take the effort to reach out gently to them.
Send this article to your friends so that they can all understand better those people who are withdrawn in your circle.