My family makes me anxious about chasing my dream

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my late 20s, freelancing while I work toward my dream. My family’s stance on the matter, however, is breaking me down emotionally.

I don’t make much money, only about tens of thousands of yen a month, but whatever I do make, I give to my parents to help with groceries while I live at home. Even so, my dad is the type who thinks being a full-time employee for a company is more admirable than working from home, so he tells me to “find a steady job.” As a result, I’ve registered at various temp agencies and on a number of job search websites. I haven’t had much luck so far.

Feeling the pressure that comes with being the eldest son and that I’m being a burden to my family, I proactively try to help around the house by doing chores or running errands for them. However, my younger brother and sister think it’s the least I can do since they also give a portion of the money they make from their part-time jobs to help with the household finances. When I tell them that there are things that I want to do as well, they respond with, “Why don’t you try sleeping less?” I cut down on how much I sleep, and I’m doing my best, but I’m burned out.

I don’t tell my family how I actually feel anymore because I don’t want to get into a fight. Can you please tell me what kind of mindset I should be in so I can keep going?

— S, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Mr. S:

Even though you are all family, your parents are not in the same position as your siblings, and the way your parents see you is different compared to how your siblings see you. I think you are lumping everyone together, and that is the source of your confusion.

Your father told you to “find a steady job” because he wants you to become your own man and be financially independent. That is the finish line for parents.

You need to convince your parents as a fully formed adult. Tell your parents how you feel and about your plans for the future. You’ll need to figure out exactly how much you are willing to give to help with the finances, as well as how the chores will be shared.

You and your siblings, on the other hand, are on equal footing. There is no need for you to feel pushed around by them to the point where you are sacrificing your work or sleep. Through reading your letter, it seems like you’re a kind older brother, and they are trying to take advantage of that.

Working from home is going to become a more prevalent way to work. If you can prepare a sound argument to show your parents that you are seriously thinking about your future, I think the path will become clear.

—Megumi Hisada, writer