Two surveys in recent years taken by married people showed that more than one third of people would not marry their current spouse if they had to do it all over again. Another survey showed more than half of women would not marry their current husband if they had do to it all over again.
I think these surveys while probably far from perfect mirror a bigger picture. And that is once we get to be middle age we begin to question the decisions we made and rethink all the what ifs. We wonder if we could and should have made better decisions or waited to make certain decisions. The young tend to be impatient not understanding the long term impact of their decisions.
So that got me to thinking. For most of mankind there wasn't much of an argument. Where you ended in life was determined by family lineage. Born a male to a peasant farmer and survived the many airborne and infectious diseases as a youngster you would still be peasant farmer. Daughter, you'd marry a peasant farmer. Starting with the Industrial Revolution and in particular the Educational and Technology Revolution post WW2 this entire dynamic changed. In the year 1800 little boys and girls weren't asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. They were in 1960.
This leads me to my point. Young people are required to make lots of decisions that can be life altering. What to do after high school, what major to undertake in college, what field to start working in, who they marry, and where they settle down. Now sure some people are very, very happy with their choices and some are able to alter their life course.
The problem seems to be when we get to the point we begin to question our earlier choices we're at a different stage in life. There are mouths to feed, bills to pay and commitments to be kept. Moreover, following your passion at age 45 isn't always possible. You financially can't start from entry level, assuming some employer would even hire you as entry level. Simply going off to college for another degree might not be practical and the degree doesn't mean you are going to get hired in that field.
I sometimes think we should change the order of things. First go out and work various jobs and see what appeals to you then pursue the education or training that's needed. I think people need to date quite a bit and yes have (responsible) sexual relations before deciding if this is the one to marry
Young people usually lack life experience, have limited maturity and self awareness, and get barraged by a mountain of bad advise from adults. Furthermore, they are expected to make decisions in rapid fire. Choose a college, declare a major, find a job related to that major, find a spouse, get married, settle down. No wonder at age 45 they are second guessing their occupation and the person they married (not always their first spouse either).
When I was in my teens in the 70s I wanted to be a firefighter or truck driver (the CB radio craze at the time). Parents, teachers, friends' parents-no way go to college. All these years later I realized that if I had followed my head and heart I'd probably have done much better and been happier. Not to mention as a firefighter retired now with a generous pension. By my 40s my passion would have been commercial airline pilot. But flight school training and getting the number of flight hours to be hired by a regional carrier making $15K a year well exceeds $100K. I didn't have an idle $100K+ and didn't have anyone to support me while I worked for McDonalds wages for a few years. Not to mention airlines don't hire 45 year old inexperienced pilots.
Now some people look back and wouldn't change a thing. Some people were able to change mid stream. For others the realization comes to late. By then dye has been cast and there's no going back.