Once Removed

Personal Growth in the Wake of a Monster Year

A reflection of calm and fear in 2023 by Hiromi Matsumoto

There's been a lot of chaos in 2023 and I think many of us are hoping for some calm in the new year. Maybe that's why it surprised me that the latest installment in the Godzilla franchise is resonating so deeply with audiences. Why now?

Personally, I had never seen the underlying message of kaiju films. Post-war Japan was struggling to get back on its feet (in a "zero state") when Godzilla showed up, delivering a devastating "minus one" blow. This giant monster was really a metaphor about the psychological impact of hardship.

2023 saw it's own challenges in the wake of a post-pandemic correction. Companies faced economic headwinds, layoffs swept through industries, and that green "Open to Work" badge became a common sight on LinkedIn.

I wasn't immune to the chaos. Rob and I, both consultants, lost our main clients this year. The fear of failure, the uncertainty of what's next, all hit hard. But in that darkness, something unexpected bloomed.

"We’re not necessarily there to kill Godzilla. We’re there to calm him."

Hitting "rock bottom" forced us to confront our weaknesses and re-evaluate our priorities. We realized we needed to change, to grow beyond our comfort zones. This wasn't just about survival, it was about embracing the unknown and becoming the best versions of ourselves.

We revamped our flagship service, built a brand new identity, and dove headfirst into projects that would have terrified us a year ago. We tackled SEO for an online store, simplified complex messages for a fintech startup, and learned more than ever before.

In a recent interview, Director Takashi Yamazaki said, Godzilla is "the physical embodiment of a kind of negative energy tied to people’s fears, worries, and disillusionment. We — humans — we’re not necessarily there to kill Godzilla. We’re there to calm him."

We all faced our own personal monster this year. But by acknowledging our fears, sharing our experiences, and refusing to give up, we found the strength to calm the negative energy within and emerge stronger on the other side.

So, while 2023 might go down as a "monster year," let's remember it as the year we learned to dance with fear, embraced change, and discovered the resilience we never knew we had. As we step into 2024, let's carry these lessons with us, ready to face whatever challenges may lie ahead.

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