I’ve never been one to regret any of my life choices. I really believe that every move in your life, be it good or bad, moves you forward, towards the person you are supposed to be. But there is one decision in my life that has me constantly wondering, “Did I do the right thing?”

When I was 16 years old I was accepted into the University of Illinois’s aerospace engineering program, which, in case you were wondering, is the 7th best program in the entire country. I had always been absolutely fascinated by space and figured a great way to be seriously involved in space exploration would be to work with NASA. But by the time school rolled around I had decided that I wasn’t going to be an engineer. Even though I was really good at it, I just thought I wouldn’t love a math-based career. So I switched to majoring in psychology so that I could get into social services, maybe one day go to law school and help people. I wish someone would have told me to be practical, but that’s a post for another day.

I still get giddy laying on my back staring up at the stars and I can still spend hours upon hours gazing through a telescope. I usually do at least one marathon day a week of some Universe show on Netflix. But 17 year old me didn’t know exactly what she wanted (no shit, right) and so I gave up on that dream before I even started. And so now, when I see things about rockets landing on Mars (!!) I simultaneously feel so super excited at mankind’s continued exploration and a twinge of regret. Because if I had gotten an engineering degree I would now be 6 years out of college and maybe, just maybe, would be on the very periphery of the team monitoring this rover. At 27 I can’t even think of anything more exciting.

Image: This artist concept features NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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