Choose your own adventure
Some of you might not be old enough to remember this, but there used to be a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure. You would be in a role ("You are an Arctic explorer..."; "You are an astronaut..."), the book would describe a situation, and every page or so you'd have to decide on a course of action.
Based on the course of action, you'd turn to a certain page in the book: "If you stop to ask for directions, turn to page 55. But if you choose to keep walking around the neighborhood, hoping you'll find the cafe, turn to page 91."
I was thinking today -- as a middle-aged guy might think -- about all the decisions I've made in my life, and how they've sent me down different paths.
Just as a quick example: I could've gone to a less-expensive state university, lived at home with my parents, and just commuted to campus. But if I'd done that, I wouldn't have met Old Roommate -- who I then wouldn't have roomed with when I finally graduated. And I wouldn't have ran out of money partway through college, had to drop out, then got the job at the movie theatre, where I met Crash Adams, the drummer, who started the band with me and Guitar Cousin.
And if I had gone to the state university, I probably would've gone straight to graduate school -- and either gone to the same one I went to, but been five years earlier (meaning that I wouldn't have had classes with the woman who became my wife!) -- or else gone to another school altogether. So: spooky.
Basically, everyone's life is a series of decisions. Each decision has consequences -- some predictable (e.g. Decide to start selling drugs; end up getting shot in the leg and having your money stolen); and some not so predictable ("right place, right time" situations).
On the one hand, I think the trick is to make decisions that maximize the chances for the outcomes you want: try to get whatever sort of education or work experience that prepares you for the job you want; avoid drugs; spend time with good, supportive people, not bad or negative people.
But! Sometimes the bad choices -- as well as the negative things that happen to you -- can place you well for opportunities that you never would've expected. As above: I was really disappointed when I ran out of money and had to leave college. But it turned out that that two-year(-ish) period was one of the best times of my life.
So -- you don't know. Do what you can; think long-term; but if things go bad, maybe it's just setting you up for something good.
Life is a long, interesting story -- and (from your perspective) you're the main character.
Take good notes: maybe it can become a screenplay.