Was I right to start going to vocational school in my 40s?

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a single woman in my early 40s, and started studying at a vocational school this spring.

Since graduating from university, I helped my father in his business as an accountant. But he decided to close his office because he’s getting old. This is when I felt the urge to take up the kind of work I had wanted to do earlier. But now I’m full of regrets and doubts.

Although I’m enjoying school, I don’t feel I belong there because most of the other students are in their late teens or 20s. I thought I was prepared for this, but now I don’t know why I ever thought of going there, as I’m extremely shy. Now I wish I never started this. I’m also worried whether I will be able to get a job at my age. I have trouble sleeping whenever I think about this in bed at night.

My elderly parents encourage me to study. But I could tell they’re very concerned about me because I’m not married. I keep on reflecting about whether I should have looked for an ordinary job at the beginning and got married, instead of helping my father.

On the other hand, I can’t give up my desire to do the work I want to do. I want to know how I can concentrate on studying. I hope you can give me advice on how to deal with the situation.

S, Tokyo

Dear Ms. S:

Your father must have been extremely fortunate to have you helping at his office for a long time. It’s now your turn to shine and your parents are backing you up on this.

But why do I feel as if I hear you sighing, when the door to your dreams is about to open? I expect it’s because you’re not fully committed.

How determined were you when you chose to go to vocational school? If you were truly committed, you wouldn’t have any doubts.

I’d like to refer you to Ino Tadataka, who completed the first map of Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867). He was already 50 when he moved to Edo (now Tokyo) to begin studying astronomy, something he was extremely interested in. He did this under a teacher 19 years younger than him. He then started to survey the land of Japan, at 55, to determine the topography of the country.

I think he is a good model in proving how we can start things at any point in our lives, “when there is the will.”

We now live in a society with more than 60,000 people aged 100 and older. You’re not even at the turning point, in this respect.

You should renew your aspirations and start heading directly toward your goal. Your parents will certainly be happy seeing you lead a fulfilling life.

Akemi Masuda,

sports commentator

(from June 9, 2016, issue)Speech

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