Perhaps one of the most potent causes of misfits in vocation is economic necessity. The time comes in the life of most boys when they must earn their own living or, perhaps, help support the parental family. In such a case, a search is made for a job. Local conditions, friendship, associations, chance vacancies—almost any consideration but that of personal fitness governs in the choice of the job. Once a boy is in a vocation, he is more than likely to remain in it—or, because of unfitness, to drift aimlessly into another, for which he is even less adapted. An entertaining writer in the “Saturday Evening Post” has shown how the boy who accidentally enters upon his career as a day laborer soon finds it impossible to graduate into the ranks of skilled labor. He remains not only a day laborer, but an occasional laborer, his periods of work interspersed with longer and longer periods of unemployment. Unemployment means bad food, unwholesome sanitary conditions and, worst of all, bad mental and moral states. These are followed by disease, incompetency, inefficiency, weakness, and, in time, the man becomes one of the unemployed and unemployable wrecks of humanity. Crime then becomes practically the only avenue of escape from starvation or pauperism.
Thousands of young men taking a job, no matter how they may dislike the work, feel compelled to remain in it because it is their one hope of income. The longer they remain in it the harder it is for them to make a change. Sad, indeed, is the case of the boy or girl who is compelled, in order to make a living or to help support father, mother, brothers and sisters, to drop into the first vacancy which offers itself.
The restlessness of many a boy and girl results in his or her choice of an utterly wrong vocation. Boys whose parents would be glad to see them through college or technical school cannot wait to begin their careers. Impatient and restless, they undertake the work which will yield quick results rather than develop their real talents or seek opportunities for advancement of which they are by nature capable. Over and over again those who come to us for consultation say: “Father would have been willing to have put me through school, but I couldn’t wait; I simply had to get out and have my own way. I have never ceased to regret it. Now I have to work hard with my hands; with a proper education, and in my right job, I could have used my head.” The reader has doubtless heard many such stories from friends and acquaintances. The world is full of misfits who failed of their great opportunity because they were too restless, too impatient, to make proper preparations for their life work. This restlessness, unfortunately, is a characteristic of many of the most energetic, most capable, and most intelligent young people, to whom an education would be worth much, to whom proper training and preparation would bring unusual self-development. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that the young man or young woman and his or her parents or guardian should be especially cautious when there is this feeling of intense eagerness to begin work.