I’m a new workforce member uneasy about interactions

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company worker in my 20s who graduated from university this spring. I’m worried I won’t be able to conduct myself properly as an adult member of society because I’ve had little contact with people outside my family.

At university I threw myself whole-heartedly into my studies, and made little effort to make friends. I had no girlfriend, either, and only briefly worked a part-time job. I had a hard time job-hunting but somehow was fortunate enough to land my current job.

Honestly, I think I am socially inept compared with people my age. I was often regarded as lacking common sense at my university group seminar or at my part-time job. I don’t think I picked up common sense during my job-hunting activities.

I thought that as long as I did well at school, I would be able to get by in life. As such, it made me pay little attention to building relationships with others. I was wrong, and now I have to pay.

From now on, should I learn to be social by summoning up my courage, but which would also open myself up to emotional wounds? I’m not sure I could handle that because I’m emotionally fragile.

What should I keep in mind to get through daily life?

Q, Tokyo

Dear Mr. Q:

I think you’re totally misunderstanding the situation.

While you say you’ve had little contact with people outside your family, you went to school all of those years. You also worked part-time and did job-hunting. What are these activities if not having contact with others?

In reality, you have been encountering strangers your entire life, but you seem to completely ignore that fact. I think that is the real problem.

I think you view “society” as only what you can see right in front of you, but your world is not limited to what you are seeing. Others are seeing you from different perspectives, whether it’s from the side or even the back. They see the whole picture, but you seem to be oblivious of that or incapable of accepting it.

You ask me whether you should be prepared for emotional wounds, but it’s obvious you’re already scarred as you seem like you’re at your wits’ end over how to live an adult life.

You have created a world without others, so others treat you accordingly. It has been a vicious cycle.

To start over, the first thing you should do is be more aware of those around you, and see how people see you.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from April 5, 2017, issue)Speech

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