I’m afraid that I’ve chosen the wrong path.

This is one of many Fear Confessions in which creatives share personal stories about facing their fears. Let’s celebrate vulnerability with Kate Baird as she shares her fear of having chosen the wrong path.

Have you ever read Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Well, I have. Okay, fine- I haven’t finished it, but I plan on getting to it someday! I did get as far as Habit 2, however. This habit states that you should begin with the end in mind. A beautiful sentiment, right?

To illustrate this, he uses a story about climbing a ladder, showing that if you don’t begin with the end in mind you’ll climb your ladder and when you get to the top, you’ll realize that you should have propped your ladder on another building all along. Or something like that.

When I read this chapter, I felt wholly unsettled. I can kind of hazily imagine “the end” for me in personal terms- family is important to me, and I want a fulfilling career. But what that career is exactly has proven to be a moving target for me. How can I begin each day with something uncertain in mind?

When I look at my past, I can already see how many times my path has jogged. I graduated with a degree in architecture, and now I’m a web designer. I know it’s not uncommon to do something different than your college major, but part of me always wonders if I would be a better designer if I had majored in something that more traditionally supported the direction I have taken.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been stubbornly barking up the wrong tree this whole time. When I was a junior in high school I got a 5 on my AP Calculus test. Should I have taken that as a sign, and gone on to be a mathematician? I think I would have been seriously bored, but I never really had that kind of success in art class, so why did I keep going?

In the end, I know why I kept going – it’s what I chose to do in my free time. It’s what I loved. But there’s part of me that worries that in following my heart, so to speak, I chose wrong. That I could have done something that made more of a difference, that made more money, or did both those things and was just plain easier.

But I guess that’s the real challenge of life, isn’t it? We don’t get to see the end result and pick our paths accordingly – we have to do our best given the limited information we have in the present. I like what I do and I’m doing my best. For now, that’s enough.

Kate Baird is the web designer, developer and collaborator who lives at KatelynBrooke.com. Geographically, she hails from Northern Virginia where she lives with her husband, her parents, and their puppy, for the time being. When she’s not hanging out online or perusing her Instagram feed, you can find her running, doing yoga, or cuddled up in front of a sitcom on Netflix.

Image credit: Kate Baird

  1. Oh I really see what you mean! I studied English and literature, started working in hospitality and events, and I am now a graphic designer… I am working so hard since I graduated 2 years ago as I am now 30 and I feel I have soooo much to catch up on to be as good as the other designers of my age. I cannot help it, I am working 7/7 and just taking a week of holidays sometimes when I am exhausted. I always wonder if I had found out earlier that I wanted to be a designer, how good would I be today? But I am so ever grateful for one thing: I managed to click on what I liked, and I am so passionate about it. It took me 5 years to reach my goals, as I could not do what I wanted financially. A lot of people are not sure they work in the field that they love. At least I am, and I would always advise to go towards a path you love. I also think that you cannot be passionate about just one thing in life. I also deeply love animals and I am hoping one day to get the best weekly diary by working with animals 1/2 days a week, and being a designer the rest of the time :) Thank you so much for sharing this, it was a great read! xx

  2. Oh and also, nothing is a waste! I always thought that my literature studies would never be of use, but they are now! I am starting to like poetry and to write my own poems… So who know what you can achieve with your math skills?

    • I agree, Lucie. No experiences are a waste because they’re part of your path to get to where you are now. Ryan’s had 30-something different jobs and they’ve all contributed to his current work in some way (or they just make for good stories.)