I think I was nine years old when a teacher sat me down in a little room and gave me an aptitude test and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Nine years old. What did I know of the world and all its vastness? What did I know of myself?

I used to like certain kinds of television shows, ones with courtrooms, ones with cowboys. “I want to be a lawyer,” I said. “Or maybe a cowboy.”

Why do we do this to kids? Why do we do it to ourselves?

At last count (2016) there were 1.3 million lawyers in the US — one for every 250 people, give or take. Is there really that much work for lawyers? Or did they just grow up watching the same sorts of tv shows I did, and the career path for cowboys wasn’t looking all that great?


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