I feel guilty about a job that my parents dislike

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter

I’m a woman in my 20s. Last year, I got a job as a new graduate at a restaurant company that I chose myself. But I have been racked by a sense of guilt over working there. It is a feeling I can’t dispel.

Every time I return home late, I get sarcastic remarks from my parents over the length of my working hours and the details of my job. They also sigh or frown. When they give me these open displays of their feelings of disbelief over my workplace, my sense of guilt over my work grows, making it hard to endure.

When I pushed back even a little, they said, “Are you going to treat your parents’ feelings with disdain?”

My lack of physical and psychological respite, pent-up frustration and guilt have left me on the blink of losing my mind.

When I had overtime, I would lie to them, saying, for instance, “I did some shopping on the way home.”

As I continue to worry about my parents’ frame of mind, you may wonder whether I am, indeed, a working adult. But I owe my parents a debt of gratitude for having brought me up so far. I cannot gather the courage to prioritize my own life, which would only invite a frown from my parents.

A. Tokyo

Dear Ms. A:

The phrase “a sense of guilt” has appeared many times. This implies a feeling that one is to blame for a punishable sin. But having read your letter over and over, I can’t figure out what sort of sins you have committed. Is it working for a company despite your parents’ opposition? Or is it working overtime and lying to them? I wouldn’t say lies and overtime are good things, but I still doubt they can be called sins.

It seems to me that it is your parents who are sinful, because they do not support the job their child has chosen. Instead, they only make sarcastic or nasty remarks. But you blame yourself, as if to say that you are a “bad child” who works for a “bad company” that your parents dislike. According to your logic, the world is filled with bad children.

Anger is a more apt feeling to harbor toward those who do not pay regard to you as a working adult. It could be a feeling that you, worrying about your parents’ frame of mind, want to deny the most, because you were brought up with such values that it is unpardonable for a person to harbor a sense of anger toward their parents, to whom they are indebted.

Anger is not a feeling that can be written off just because of parental feelings. Anger is still anger. You should reevaluate your job and life after you are honest with your feelings. You don’t have to consider those parents as your own if they deprive their child of her pride. It’s time for you to stand on your own feet.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(From April 22, 2018, issue)Speech

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