My story: Growing up with a father who was a very creative and competent mechanical engineer (32 patents in fiberglass extrusion), I was fascinated when I saw machines he designed and followed his footsteps. I don't have 32 patents, but I do have over 40 years of mechanical design work under my belt and I don't regret a minute of it. I have designed, installed, and debugged automation and manufacturing equipment for industries as diverse as automotive glass, tires, hearing aids, machine tools, and even aircraft. Mechanical engineering is, in my opinion, by far the most wide ranging and diverse of the engineering disciplines. (Can you think of ANY product that wouldn't need an ME in its development and production?) I chose to specialize in the sub-discipline of Machine Design (as opposed to HVAC, Structural, Piping, etc.). There is no joy like struggling for months with numerous design obstacles and failed attempts to finally watching something you designed run smoothly and reliably, doing what it was meant to do with no hiccups. In a lot of ways, your most successful projects are the ones that get the least long-term attention and notice because, well, because they simply work. And keep on working, quietly and under the radar.
I don't know if I've triggered any thoughts for you, but you reminded me of myself a few decades ago. Thought I'd give you a little glimpse "from the other side".