A few days ago I struck up a conversation with a cab driver that led me to question some of the things that usually go without thought. He seemed vastly overqualified for what he was doing. He spent roughly two years doing communications work for the Canadian army, on nightly flights over Afghanistan. He speaks six languag- es. He has an electrical engineering degree from a respected post-second- ary institution from his home country. It didn’t quite seem right that he was driving unruly students to and from Hess.

The world needs doctors and engineers. There’s no disputing that. Does that world need as many as a standard university enrollment may lead one to expect? Perhaps not.

Too often I see students who were pressured by their parents or relatives into pursuing a path that would lead to a lucrative but difficult career. I’m sure a fair number of these students grew up wanting to take these paths, but I find it difficult to believe that they all imagined themselves doing open-heart surgery at age six.

And a great deal of those students won’t make it. That’s just the harsh reality of the rigourous standards that are in place for medical, judicial or engineering professions. There’s the age-old frosh week chant “half of you will fail.” It’s funny because it has an element of truth.

So instead of spending your gold- en years pursuing a path that you may not actually want might not succeed in, why not do something that might make you happy?

My own parents spent much of my childhood urging me to pursue dentistry or math, which only made me want to do it that much less. It wasn’t my calling, and if I’m being honest with myself, I would probably be a pretty shitty dentist, if they would even ever let me get remotely close to the point of finding that out.

I’m not optimistic about my financial future, but very few jobs nowadays can actually provide that, and with little guarantee.

That cab driver pursued a path that ultimately led him looking for work in his field to no avail, and settled on something that gets him less income, but is, in his words, “extremely calming.”

If you want to cut people open and save lives, more power to you. I will probably need you one day. If you are trying to do it for the salary, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

The world needs writers. The world needs analysts and event planners. The world even needs snobby restaurant critics. They don’t make as much but we get by.

Your life is only so long. Don’t spend the majority of it preparing yourself for a future that someone else wanted.


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