When do you admit you’re climbing the wrong professional ladder, Alun Rees questions.

‘Fundamentally, I preferred the person that I was when I was not being a doctor.

‘Some people are very good at managing those tensions.

‘And I think that with hindsight, I wasn’t’.

These are the words of Dr Prasanna Puwanarajah taken from an interview in the Financial Times.

He now devotes his time to working as a stage director, actor and writer.

Viewed from the outside, dentistry, like medicine, appears to be a sensible career choice.

It brings social status, relatively good financial rewards and high employment.

But it can be tough, especially if you are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

Most people choose dentistry without experiencing the reality of everyday life, how could they?

They make career decisions at the age of 16, or younger, when they are barely grown.

After five years at university with accumulated debts, plus a spell of time working, it’s hard to admit that you are not suited to this vocational career.

Climbing the right ladder

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in dentistry who would not choose it again or discourage their children from entering the profession.

They feel unfulfilled and do not enjoy their working life.

Superficially, many appear successful with smiles that disguise their inner feelings.

Some are like those described by catholic monk Thomas Merton who said: ‘People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.’

That was true at several points in my career until I had the courage to make the choice of living my life on my terms.

If you feel your ladder is against the wrong wall, at what point do you admit it?

Or do you wait until it’s too late?


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