I Can’t Forget My Mother’s Remarks Regarding My Academic Background

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a college student in my 20s. I can’t stop thinking about what my mother said to me about my mediocre academic background. My father works for a big company, and his friends went to prestigious schools, as do their children.

When I was a high school student, my mom said, “The kids of your father’s friends were all so bright that I couldn’t keep up with the conversations, and we were ostracized as a result.”

She was likely envious of my father’s friends and their children because she has an inferiority complex about her own educational background. I was very shocked at her insensitivity in saying that my academic background had narrowed my parents’ circle of friends.

I repeatedly told myself that one’s academic background isn’t everything, but now I’m curious about which schools others ended up at, and I worry about what’ll happen when I have kids in the future.

I live alone, but every time I see my mom, I feel like she’s comparing me to others and her words come back to haunt me.

— V, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. V:

Ultimately, academic background means how well you performed in entrance exams. You were around 15 when you sat for high school entrance exams and around 18 years when you took university-placement exams. Don’t you think it’s ridiculous to let the results you got at such a young age sway you for the rest of your life?

In the first place, the old-fashioned hierarchy based on schools seems to be rapidly losing its significance in today’s fast-moving world. It’s correct to tell yourself that academic background isn’t everything.

As someone who is now considered elderly, I realize afresh that academic background has no real bearing on one’s life. Rather, I think the real nub of the issue is how motivated you are about tackling things as a student and after you begin working.

I don’t know your academic major, but I think you should first put you full focus on your studies. It would be great if you can grasp even a little of how vast the academic system can be outside the realm of lectures.

It might be difficult to change your mother’s views. People obsessed with academic backgrounds often find themselves in circumstances or have experiences that may not seem directly related to academic results, but nevertheless there is still some connection to educational backgrounds and outcomes.

Take a step back and try to understand your mother, including the era in which she lived.

— Yoko Sanuki, lawyer