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People think I’m nice, but I don’t deserve to be liked

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male vocational school student in my 30s. I’ve found I’m admired by my classmates, who are over 10 years younger than me. I’m really happy and honored, but at the same time, I feel guilty because I know they are attracted to me just because I’ve been pretending to be a nice guy.

As I have work experience, I’ve sometimes found it irritating how my classmates behave during classes and the things they do at school events. However, I’ve behaved like I don’t notice because I don’t want to ruin the mood of the class, and I don’t want my classmates to hate me. When I was working, a senior colleague always spoke up when he felt the need. I myself have avoided playing that role.

I’ll soon leave school to start working in April. All of my classmates said they will miss me. I, however, feel really bad for them. I also think I should correct my way of playing the nice guy all the time before joining the workforce again.

How should I deal with having been considered a saint?

N, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Mr. N:

You are admired by your classmates as if you were a saint, but you aren’t openly happy about that. You are worried about things like, “I’ve just played the nice guy” and “I’m a hypocrite and a liar.” In that case, I think it is only natural that the more you are admired, the guiltier you feel.

After reading your letter, I’ve come to two conclusions: First, if you’ve been playing the nice guy all this time, that means you are quite talented. I think you are capable of making others feel at ease, rather than just being a liar. Many people probably wish they had such abilities, but it’s rather difficult for us to obtain them.

Second, I’m certain you are absolutely a nice person; not simply pretending to be. You’re so serious in thinking about things and reflecting on yourself. If these aren’t the traits of a nice person, then what are?

Therefore, I’d define you as “an extraordinary person who can make others feel comfortable and deal with things honestly and face-to-face from the bottom of your heart.” I hope you will say goodbye to your classmates with a smile and use your beautiful qualities to your best advantage at work.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from March 18, 2018, issue)Speech

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