Yes you could.
I’m not just saying that directly to the questionaut. In a very deep way, everyone reading this could’ve been a doctor. It’s probably one of those hard work things on some level, with a huge slathering of ‘if cicrumstances allow’ that probably prevent a lot of people from ever being in the position to do that much hard work.
That’s a fairly big deal, its distressing that you have to be in a privileged enough circumstance to have a good shot at being a doctor, or anything, for that matter. People can overcome obstacles, but we should really be aiming to remove those in the first case, rather than providing people climbing ropes over them in select circumstances.
Of course, one of the biggest reasons you aren’t (unless you are) is probably that you had to make the decision to be/do that much earlier in your life than you were ready for.
I know its the reason I’m not doing something that involved harder work at the educational level. I feel like I’ve missed my window, because those choices had to be made at the point where I was swimming in dope, music and alcohol. This is not a question of lack of privilege, I’d like to clarify, this is to do with being a wastrel (in my case).
Anyway, the point I want to make is that I really think it would be great if there was a natural break in the worklife pattern running up to the age of thirty. And maybe again at forty. I think every decade you should have a few years off in which you can study, train and re-examine your priorities. Its no use making huge important decisions when you’re sixteen, eighteen or twenty-one, you are not then who you are going to be.
You don’t know what you are.
You may have a few hints, and if you’re lucky, you’ll train yourself further into them and create a you that’s right for your path, but for the majority, I believe, we don’t have a clue.
The question shouldn’t be a could have been. It should be a could. Plain and simple. It shouldn’t be nigh on impossible to become a doctor, astronaut, baker or judge by the time you’re rolling towards thirty (or forty, or fifty, or any age that exists). Our lives shouldn’t be built on teenage decisions.
We all remember our decision making process as teenagers. No matter how hard we try to forget. They were not good processes. My flowchart was FUCKED. That’s a straightforward fact.
So why do we build our lives on that. And why do we save the freedom for the time when we’re too creaky to use it (more often than not, there are some pretty limber pensioners out there, I can testify to that)?
I think our world is built more than a little wrong, and I think a big part of that is our work/life/education balance.
Spread it out.
Illustration by Henry