Freedom has to include the freedom to make poor choices. That is a crucial ingredient in learning. You make a choice, experience the consequences, and alter your path accordingly. Children, interestingly, are quite willing to consider the advice of their parents and other adults - **when they are comfortable in the knowledge that the final decision rests with them**. The experience of making choices and coping with the results (with support - no need for harshness) brings kids to adulthood with a strong base of confidence. All the people I know who were raised with a lot of autonomy are sensible, balanced, independent adults.

You say you would have been no wiser or better off had you quit school and became an athlete or musician, but I wonder if you would have been happier?

Whatever it is you are regretting is in the past. Stop looking back and look ahead. You may feel you don't know things you ought to have learned, or that you have poor habits of mind due to your lack of application. These are not immutable things. How would your life be better if any of that were different? Figure out a way to *start* making the changes.

I was a "model student" in school, and I can tell you a lot of what I learned I had to painfully unlearn in later life - lessons like "never try anything you might fail at", and "other people know what it best for you". Life is an accumulation of events to learn from; no matter what paths we choose, we will have some things to regret and move on from.