Saturday, June 4, 2011

Alternate Reality

Reading through a few articles and books lately, I'm made to remember those occupations that, growing up, could have become a large part of what I did with my life. I often wonder if I had become an expert in these things and engaged in a different profession what it would be like. Now, there is a reason I never took these paths, since each has a fatal flaw, and I don't regret wasting my time on something I wasn't going to enjoy or be good at. But I'm still fascianted by many of these fields.

Math: I always thought I was reasonably good at math--I didn't have the discipline to hit my grades out of the ballpark in high school, but I did well enough--and the cold, clean logic of mathematics always fascinated me. It's not like economics or sociology or medicine, where there are never any 100% right or wrong answers or decisions to make. In math, there is. And, of course, all of the related fields, such as physics and engineering, could have opened many doors. However, I hit a decidedly hard stop in comprehension at one point. Once we got into Calculus II, I realized I had never really grasped Calculus I. All of the graphs and limits never made sense to me. I didn't get the point, and still don't. But in Calc I, I could fudge and guess my way through it. I knew the core and could build off of it, but anything beyond that was fuzzy. And you can't go much farther than that in math if you don't have the ability to comprehend.

Pitchman: I'll never try to tell anyone I'm a salesman; I'm just not that good. But I've always felt that I have the ability to determine what positives people care about and what negatives mean the least to them, and quickly craft a pitch to maximize the selling point. I seem to be able to do this with non-commercial situations in small groups, so I don't know if I would be good at asking for money for large crowds, but for some reason I always feel comfortable with it. My main problem, though, is that I had nothing to sell--and selling someone else's product always carried a risk that you were basically passing on a lie from someone who is going to make a lot more money than yourself. I've also never wanted to be a salesman, which would be a more structured environment, because I don't like the pressures of deadlines and quotas when it comes to remuneration. There have been a few occupations several degrees removed--say, advertising or social media--that could have been more positive, but those are fields that are inherently difficult to break into and/or make any actual money at.

Day Trader: OK, I'm cheating on this one, because who wouldn't want to be a day trader? You literally sit around all day and make money. Well, I knew that people who did that probably weren't really all that successful--if you know enough information about the current trends and analysis of the stock market to make a living, you're in a field making a lot more money than you would be simply trading securities. Still, I tried my hand with it about eight years ago with the assumption that I could at least hold my own. It was, to be blunt, an unmitigated disaster, and one of the reasons I caution people about doing the same thing. Either you know what you are doing and don't need to be mucking about independently, or you think you know what you're doing and so far have been either 1) lucky or 2) poor.

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