I'm currently seeing a career coach, and at least for now, it feels pretty life changing. If you told me in my twenties that career coaches were a thing, I probably would never have believed you, let alone consider that hiring one might be worth it. At that time I was still highly skeptical of therapists and adjacent professionals. I didn't believe that someone who hadn't faced the same decisions and paths as I had could relate well enough to truly help me grow. After all, what could they possible know me when they see so many people? Not even my parents know me that well.
Now that I'm older, I realize that human lives are hardly so unique, and that there are only so many patterns to be discovered. Professionals like therapists and career coaches help us discover and navigate those patterns, so that we may forge alternative paths. To use a gaming analogy, it's like having a strategy guide for life in our pocket. Unfortunately, even after years of examining the code, therapists and other strategists can only know so much. The strategy guide is a coauthoring experience, and is wholly dependent on the choices of the player. Who knows what secrets lie in wait? Only the game designer.
In hindsight, it seems like a silly thing to pass up. Why should we make the same mistakes over and over again? Why do humans ignore millennia of generational knowledge and experience to relearn the same lessons? It would seem that the vast majority of people prefer to learn things the hard way and create their own path. To hear most people tell it, the greater the struggle, the more alive they feel. I definitely get it, and I suppose that's a huge part of the folly of youth.
Yet, I often wonder if there's a certain futility in pretending we can go our own way when so much of it has been done before. What if we actually made up our minds to learn from the past as a species instead of as individuals? What might we accomplish? I don't know that we'll ever know the answer to that question, though some societies come closer than others. I guess individuality is part of what makes us human after all.