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I’m a company employee in my 40s without friends

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a married male company employee in my late 40s with two children. I have no good friends I can talk openly to, so I feel isolated.

People around me seem to enjoy being with friends by drinking together and doing the same hobbies.

However, I’ve lived until today without sharing joy with other people.

Even if I attend a gathering, I can’t enjoy it. I feel young people expect I’m a mature person normal for my age, but I’m not actually. Thinking about it makes me feel miserable.

I’ve been trying to improve myself by acquiring certificates and other measures. However, I can’t build relations with others well. Maybe I do something that makes others uncomfortable. As a result, I end up feeling helpless and worthless.

I’m at an age when I want to look dignified to other people. How can I brace myself and live a fulfilling life? How can I change myself? And how can I seize the moment to change?

K, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Mr. K:

You are depressed because you are worried you can’t enjoy chatting with others and having a good time with friends.

You want to be acknowledged by others by having abilities other people don’t have or acquiring certificates to prove your abilities. You also want to behave in a dignified way in front of others. But if you do that, you are afraid people may turn their backs to you. You are not sure if you truly have these abilities, either.

If you continue worrying in such a way, nothing will change. So why don’t you stop worrying about yourself completely for a while? Stop focusing on yourself, and instead, devote yourself to learning about others, their interests and worries.

You don’t have to be discouraged even if people tell you that you are meddling or pushy. Talk to others as if you were interviewing them. Because they are attracting somebody’s attention, they won’t feel bad. So they will probably respond to you without feeling annoyed.

Why don’t you start by creating some space in your mind so others can enter easily?

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from Jan. 29, 2015, issue)

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