Sometimes I wonder if I’ve chosen the wrong profession.

It doesn’t happen often, but when the feeling hits it hits like a bee sting.  It hurts pretty badly at first.  Then you pulverize the bee to give yourself the small satisfaction of revenge.  But then you’re stuck with a nagging itch that requires constant supervision in the form of scratching or ice-packing or what have you.  After a day or two it’s gone and you forget that it ever happened.

I second-guess my job choice for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes I do it when I look at my pay stub.  Other times, when I have a day or two of solid writer’s block and I produce a final product that looks something like this:

But more often than not the feeling arises when I realize that I could have been passable at performing skills that have nothing to do with writing.  There’s a high I get when I’m in the zone writing great copy, but I get the same kind of satisfaction from other activities as well, like playing music or solving a really cool physics problem.  Back in my freshman year of college I was thinking about a double major in physics and jazz performance.  I think if I’d been born in a different phase of the moon or whatever, maybe I’d have wound up playing in Jay-Z’s backing band or designing space shuttles.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way—in fact, I’m sure everyone does.  My mom started school as a theater major and wound up a pediatric nurse, but as evidenced by the way she critiques every property she passes on her way to work, I know she has a very obvious passion for landscape design and could have made a career of it.  My dad works in environmental science, but he talks about small construction projects like designing tree houses or building sandboxes with such frequency that I know he could have pursued his engineering studies a lot further than he did.

When we feel that sting of uncertainty, I remind my friends and myself that there is no single “right” choice—there are many.  The trick, I suppose, is to embrace our varied interests and trust that whatever we choose does not seal our professional fate.  I consider myself a writer, and I always will.  But 40 years from now, I might be designing desk chairs for tall people, or captaining a whale watch vessel somewhere warm and breezy.  You never know.

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