With pale pink illustrations, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi, gives a sharp look at how one person deals with the demons in her mind that the world creates and painfully overcomes them.
What is the book about?
The opening scene of the manga, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi is like a film since it focuses on an unexpected situation that the female protagonist of this manga is in and then she talks about the scene and how she ended up there.
Next page though, we see the ghosts that haunted her in the past ten years that led her to that opening situation: ghosts that we may all face such as not knowing where to go, not having a “something I belong to”, to much more serious ones such as self harm, eating disorders and depression.
After quitting college, she faces conflicts of adjusting to the workplace and to the world as a whole, including her own parents and living up to their expectations. It mostly goes downhill from there: be it at her part time jobs or with her own self esteem.
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness deals in a matured way with mental health issues such as anxiety of facing people or the world’s expectations.
One idea that struck me was when she mentions about her invisible pain and I thought that that would help people to understand mental health issues:
“When my mind is hurting there is no shape or mark to look at, so I can’t understand it very well.”
What was heartbreaking to see was how the story depicts the loneliness of the protagonist which we may all face at sometime or the other. And who has not at times felt bereft of people or felt metaphorically stranded on an island while the world passes by?
What was heartening though was how she was encouraged by random strangers at her job interviews to pursue her dream of writing manga. That alone would light up anybody and restore faith in humanity.
The protagonist’s honest stripping of her doubts and searching within was another heartwarming aspect since it laid bare all her fears and anxieties. But she was gutsy enough to write about it and also to try to fix herself after that retrospection.
The manga in no way is trying to be preachy or inspirational. But it quietly depicts the travails of one person and how she accepts herself slowly. It shows how the journey can be hard and not something that can be overcome with just one try or after one retrospection.
One Last Reason to Pick it up?
Number One: It is autobiographical and Nagata Kabi talks about the blinding sense of loneliness she encountered, so much so that she had to go in search of hugs. It crippled her life so much so that even going back to a normal routine such as waking up everyday on time was a momentous achievement.
Number Two: Its frank approach of depicting the female sexuality and about expectations around sex as well. The manga also talks about her explorations with her sexuality while figuring out who she was and who she wants to be. But make no mistake of simply pigeonholing the manga into a queer one. It is just not about answering a call of lust but about dispelling one’s loneliness and wanting to overcome her personal and societal taboos around sex and facing her anxieties of breaking from her own cocooned shell.
Number Three: My Lesbian Experience of Loneliness is thus a beautiful exploration of the self, of growing up, understanding and accepting oneself. It is one of the few female bildungsroman manga that are out there.