Self Exploration 2: What Determines Our Life Path?

Essay by sardiddle April 2006

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Learning Log # 3

What leads a person to choose one career path over another? A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about why he chose the career that he is pursuing. He chose a career path that he does not enjoy and is not naturally good at. Because of this, he is constantly struggling with his work. He has decided that he does not want this to be his career, but will finish getting his degree. After talking for a long time, convinced him to go ahead and get his degree in computer science, but then go to graduate school for psychology; something he really enjoys. I am curious as to why he chose something that he does not enjoy over a field that he would be happy in. I came up with several theories to answer my questions, but will only write a few of them down.

First, he was not around children his own age when he was young. He was always surrounded by adults. I, on the other hand, was constantly around people my own age when I was younger. Is it possible that a person will choose different paths based on their surroundings as a child? Second, all of the adults in his life were mathematicians, physicists, et cetera. He said that the adults seemed only to consider a person intelligent if they were good at math and science. My family, however, never showed preference one way or the other. They always praised me for my creative and artistic abilities. Do we actually notice little things like this as children, and furthermore, do we actually carry it in to our adult lives? Third, he remembers his father driving him around in circles as a child, asking him math problems. The only way that they would get to their destination was if he answered them correctly. I think that it is quite possible that we choose careers to please our parents and families. Nevertheless, I wonder why. How could someone let another person have that much control over his or her life that his or her happiness is at stake? What is wrong with the parents that their number one goal for their child is a certain career instead of happiness? It seems as though they never wanted a child to love, they wanted a child who they could brag about. I wonder this not only about careers, but also about many things that some parents impose on their children (not including things based on the child's well-being). It may be something that I will never understand because of my upbringing. Perhaps I'm lucky because I don't understand it.