To that I say: I knew I was a scientist when I was 7.
I didn’t know I wanted to be a scientist. That that would be my job. But I think being a scientist has more to do with the way you look at the world and react to it than with a piece of paper from a university.
That said, you are right about the inherent uncertainty in the world (it’s a founding principle of modern physics). When we get a question asking “I am <at this life stage>. What’s the best course to take to become a physicist/scientist?” We can only answer that question.
I would never presume to tell anyone what they should do instead or what they actually want contrary to what they tell me.
However, none of the advice we have ever given would serve to lock a person into an inexorable path at a young age and leave them with no other recourse than to become a physicist or DIE. So I really don’t see a problem.
Yes, the world is ambiguous. Does that mean I shouldn’t take that AP physics course I enjoy?
Adam: Yeah, I’m not going to begrudge a 13 year old their dreams. You know what I wanted to be then? A zoologist. I’m not that. But back then, it was what I wanted. And it made me happy. So the memory of that makes me happy. And I still love evolutionary biology.
And age is no guarantee of certainty. Four years ago, I wanted to be a researcher and a professor. Now I’d rather staple my hand to face on a daily basis. My 13 year old dreams were no worse than my 23 year old dreams.
Your dreams form who you are, whether they pan out or not. So don’t regret them, because at one point, there was nothing you wanted more. People should pursue their dreams. Either they’ll pan out, or they’ll find a new dream. Both are good.