The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m an unemployed woman in my early 30s. I was forced to leave university for family reasons about a decade ago. Now I want to go back to school, but I feel hesitant.
I went to a high school that put emphasis on preparing for university entrance examinations. Unfortunately, my parents were not on good terms with each other and in so much debt that I spent much of my time working part-time, including jobs related to adult entertainment. This all meant little time for studying.
As I wanted to be a novelist, I aimed to learn at the literature department of a famous university. However, I eventually entered an art college instead.
I left the college in my junior year — my mom said I had to because we were in even more debt. Ever since, I’ve hopped between jobs such as writing for a weekly magazine and working at a pachinko parlor.
I don’t work now because I’ve lost interest in doing the work my current academic background can get me.
I really wanted to study more, and I had the academic ability to do so, but I couldn’t make it. I’m miserable about this.
While exchanging emails with people overseas, I now feel like studying foreign languages and world history at the university I’d initially hoped to attend. Do you think I can be a student again at my age?
F, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. F:
You can be a university student no matter how old you are, and as many times as you want to be, but I think this is not your point.
You were a high-achiever but forced to leave school for family reasons. While moving between jobs, you’ve passed the age of 30. How should you live from now on? This is probably what you want to know.
Now you at last have your own free time, and I bet you don’t think you have anything to be proud of. Or perhaps suddenly you’ve acquired a thirst for committing yourself to doing something meaningful.
But wait a minute. Do you really have nothing to be proud of? I don’t think this is the case. You’ve had tough life experiences, much more than people who depend on their parents and leisurely spend their time.
You’ve never wasted time on doing useless things, instead having built yourself up through all your valuable experiences. It also seems some of your past jobs may have been unpleasant.
But all these things, even the mental wounds you have sustained, have made you who you are today. It’s true your parents have given you problems, but from another perspective, your mind has become stronger thanks to them. Don’t paint yourself as a victim or you’ll be defeated by life.
You think you need to study at university now. This means the right time has come. You are so young — still in your 30s.
Universities want students like you. You haven’t lost anything. Believe in yourself and go forward.
Hazuki Saisho, writer