The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a man in my 60s. I’ve been living with an inferiority complex for many years because I’m a graduate of a mediocre private university.
I was severely depressed when preparing for my university entrance examinations, causing my academic performance to nosedive. I decided to give up my first choice and apply for another state-run university on a much lower level, but I failed to even pass its entrance exam. Almost against my will, I decided in the end to enter a second-tier private university recommended by my homeroom teacher.
I could have studied at an elite university or faculty if I had faced down my problems. This thought still fills me with regret. I believe I could have achieved a better result if I had gone to the hospital for treatment and then taken the entrance exams in a stable mental state.
I told these things to my father later on when he was still alive. “I didn’t know about it at all,” he said. “However, it’s too late to lament such things now. You should accept what happened as your destiny.”
Although I expected something more from him, I’ve nevertheless tried repeatedly to accept that I was destined to wind up at the private university. However, I’m still tortured by this lingering inferiority complex. Barring those rare moments when something particularly pleasant or enjoyable happens, most of the time I feel like a total failure.
G, Kagawa Prefecture
Dear Mr. G:
I’m fed up with people who boast of their academic background. I’m also tired of people who are consumed with a sense of inferiority stemming from their academic background. Both groups have nothing to talk about except academic backgrounds. It’s natural they appear unattractive to women.
I don’t necessarily mean you’re one of them. However, I simply want to say that not all people develop an inferiority complex after experiencing a setback like yours. I rather believe another type of problem lies behind your feelings.
I think your letter contains a clue. Your father said to you, “You should accept what happened as your destiny.”
He is absolutely wrong. This way of thinking just shuts the gate on the future. I think your life would have been much easier if he’d been a little more considerate and said something like: “I feel sorry for you. You just happened to have bad luck. But you can make up for it starting right now.”
I believe it was your father’s refusal to acknowledge you, not your alma mater, that caused your inferiority complex. He was so distant from you during your high school days that you were even unable to seek advice from him about your ill health. Your father eventually embedded his “destiny” idea in your mind and aggravated your inferiority complex.
Your academic fortunes are something you can change if you have the will to do so. It is not part of some unalterable plot that was determined before you were born. You should work to recover and start over as soon as possible.
Hazuki Saisho, writer