Dear Harlan: I need advice about choosing a career path. I know what I want to do, but I’m scared to commit and do it. The process of pursuing this career is scary and the occupation is scary. What advice could you give to someone who knows what they want to do, but is too scared to do it?
— At a Crossroads
Dear At a Crossroads: What career path could possibly be so scary and intimidating? Do you want to be a doctor and go to school for 12 years and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in your education? Do you want to go into construction, build skyscrapers and walk on beams hundreds of feet above the ground? Do you want to be a performer, move to a new city and compete with thousands of people pursuing the same dream? Do you want to work a commission-based job and have to close the deal in order to get paid? Do you want to be a teacher, go to grad school, invest lots of time and money, and work in a field that’s under-appreciated and underpaid. I could go on and on. It’s all scary if you allow yourself to be scared. Thinking about something and experiencing something are two very different things. Everything you care about can be scary, but the scary part isn’t the true narrative. Instead of thinking you know how it will feel, experience it. Get a part-time job working around people doing what you want to do. Talk to people who are living the life you want to live and ask them about their career path. Ask them about the uncomfortable parts that intimidate you. Instead of letting the unknown scare you, get the information and experience that will inform and calm you.