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Discovering the Right Path

As I've revealed on this blog, I'm back on the job market and find myself again wondering what the "right" path is for me. My students are half my age (okay, less than half) and are on the same journey of self-discovery and purpose-seeking.

The reality is that we are limited not only by our skills and knowledge, but also by our personalities and social abilities. It might be that the right path for me has more to do with my personality than my interests. How to balance the intellectual and the social aspects of a career is a question I've never been able to answer.

When you love people and love business, being in sales is a natural path. If you dislike social interactions, but love medicine, then being a pathologist or medical researcher is a good path. It's easier for me to consider hypothetical combinations and present those to my students than to come up with a good combination for myself.

I've met autistic adults with dreams of careers that aren't realistic. I have told parents that if a student doesn't like noise, chaos, and over-stimulation, the dream of being a nurse might be impractical. If you don't like pressure and time limits, then a lot of careers are illogical to consider. Sorry, but that's the difficult truth we have to tell students. Then, we need to help young people find the right combination of interests, abilities, and tolerances so they can better aim for what might be the right path ahead.

Any socially active workplace is a struggle for me. Knowing my limitations doesn't make it any easier to confront them. Many of the careers I would like to pursue are too socially driven.

By the summer of 2013, I hope to know the next path I will be taking. As I face the decision of which paths to consider and which to eliminate, I'll need to be honest with myself about the environments that are best suited to my personality, not merely my interests or skills.

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