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I’m a high school boy and don’t want to be ordinary

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male high school student. I’ve become obsessed with the desire not to be ordinary. I want to become someone who is praised and envied in the future.

I’ve been good at schoolwork and sports since I was a child. I passed an exam to get into a prestigious middle school and high school combined. I’ve excelled at this school, too, and even served as the president of the student council. I’m trusted by my friends and teachers. In fact, I’m a student who stands out.

I’d say I’ve been on the elite track so far. Now that I’ve stopped to think about my future, I’ve realized I don’t feel like going to university and getting a job the way ordinary people usually do. Although I’m interested in medical science and education, I don’t want to become an ordinary medical scientist or educator.

I’m probably possessed with a childish, foolish pride, believing myself to be someone special. I sincerely want to work in the field that I’m interested in, but I’ve inevitably narrowed the range of options for my future because of my pride.

Can I cherish my wish of “becoming someone that is not ordinary” and make it one of my standards for choosing my future path? Or should I simply pursue what I want to do?

A, Tokyo

Dear Mr. A:

Since I was very young, I hated the idea of being ordinary. It is probably because my name is quite ordinary. I dont’t think these kinds of thoughts are uncommon, but rather shared by many people.

I have one suggestion for you. Being ordinary is, in fact, being profound. Soseki Natsume and Ogai Mori, both admired literary giants now, studied overseas at the expense of the government as ordinary elite students. After coming home, Soseki taught at a university at one point, while Ogai was an army surgeon throughout his career. Albert Einstein got a job at a patent office after graduating from university.

Although some people are geniuses by nature, like Mozart, there are many people who seem to follow ordinary careers but later garner acclaim for accomplishing something great.

So, I suggest you pursue medical science, education or any other subject you find interesting. It is a privilege to be able to work on something you like. While doing the work, you will certainly get the opportunity to do something special. You should wait until that time to do something extraordinary.

Honestly speaking, as old as I am now, I’ve come to think being ordinary is the most desirable way to be.

Masahiro Yamada, professor

(from Aug. 30, 2016, issue)Speech

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