I’ve been skipping class and am afraid I won’t graduate

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female university student in my 20s. I can’t bring myself to attend one of my classes at school.

When I do the reading assignments, nothing sinks in, and I can’t develop an opinion about anything. I feel unprepared and it’s hard not having any opinions of my own, so I only participated in the first class and never went back again. I told the professor I just couldn’t make myself go to the class, but I need the credits to graduate, so I’ll have a tough time if I don’t get them.

I also put off doing my written assignments, submitting them late or just before the deadline. There were times when I didn’t feel like doing the assignments and ended up not submitting them at all. I don’t know why I’m at university anymore, and I feel like throwing everything away. I haven’t done any job hunting yet, either.

People say that I look mentally strong, but in reality, I am a weak person and I hate myself. I don’t have any friends I can talk to and I can’t tell my parents, either.

This has become long and rambling, but I would just appreciate any help you can offer.

—U, Tokyo

Dear Ms. U:

I read your long letter and came away with the sense that this is not a problem about participating in seminars, but rather a personal lifestyle issue with you.

Perhaps you met the expectations of those around you and were able to get into university. When the moment comes during seminars when the expectations are for you to express your opinion and you feel you have to meet those expectations, you are unable to do it well.

At the same time, handling other classes became agonizing for you.

There are two pieces of advice I can offer. First, you should go to your university’s student counseling center and honestly talk about how you feel. Your university should have a counselor or someone similar assigned to you. There are also places where you can consult via email or online. There, you can seek some guidance on your future as a student.

One more thing: Find something fun to do when you are on summer break. There might be only a few options because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can try taking a solo trip, starting a blog, volunteering — anything would be fine.

Regardless of the expectations of those around you, how about letting yourself do something based on one criteria: “Is this fun to do?”

If you can find something that you truly enjoy doing, I believe you will be able to start the new semester with a renewed spirit.

—Masahiro Yamada, university professor