Your Dreams Might Not Come True, And That’s OK
Ask yourself this: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut? A doctor? An actor? A model? Hulk Hogan?
And what are you now? An insurance salesman? A department store clerk? A barista? Hulk Hogan?
Disney and various other popular culture outlets have force-fed Millennials the notion that if they simply try, they will succeed. But, in reality, only a very small number of people can succeed. Most people are bound for lifetime Dunder and Mifflin level mediocrity that leaves them with a toxic, cynical, self-loathing attitude. Like Young Goodman Brown, no hopeful verse is carved upon their tombstones and their dying hours are gloom.
This narrative of failure is all too common these days. So many people lose their way in life — but where? And how?
We all start off as wide-eyed children with big ideas about what we’d like to do with our lives (world domination, president of Nintendo, WWE champion, etc.) and, over the course of growing up, these dreams either change, disappear, or linger on in the brain, unfulfilled, until our unceremonious deaths.
Now, of course, the children of yesteryear that are currently today’s “millennial” adults grew up alongside socioeconomic circumstances that ultimately resulted in execrable hardships that doomed their chances at a happy life and shook the very foundations of what society deemed as “the right thing.” College was once considered a must. It was a sacrosanct part of life. All who fled from it were destined to ignominious retail positions, and *gasp* working-class manual labor jobs, or so kids were taught. Alas, this wisdom didn’t survive The Great Recession, for expensive college degrees proved no more effective than toilet paper in getting graduates started on a desirable career path and often landed them jobs in the very fields getting a degree was supposed to shield them from.
However, this issue is only part of the problem.
Yes, the world situation was and is bad but that doesn’t absolve people of personal responsibility. After all, many other people from different generations also found themselves doing less-than-enviable jobs for most of their lives.
If those people couldn’t blame “the Economy” as has become popular now, what can they blame?
The same thing any person who deems themselves a failure can blame: They stopped learning. They stopped achieving. They stopped dreaming.
The ability to learn and adapt is one of the greatest feats of the human brain, yet so many people squander it. Children refuse to learn or pay attention in elementary school, rebellious middle school and high school teenagers are far too “cool” to pay attention, and in college many people consider classes just a way to kill time between parties.
After so many lost opportunities for quality learning, some people understand how much they missed and seek to educate themselves, learning anything from how to caulk a bathroom to the cultural intricacies of the Antebellum American South. Even if these people dread returning to work every Monday, their constant thirst for learning keeps them going. Knowledge is their fuel. Their job is just their job; becoming more learned individuals is their passion and calling in life. As long as they are learning, they are not failures.
Achievement goes along with learning. A miserable person ceases being miserable when they take up a new craft on the side and master it to the best of their abilities. A locksmith with a reproductive disorder becomes a lion when he excels at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and places first in a tournament.
Dreams are perhaps the most Daedalean part of not losing one’s way. Not everyone can achieve their dreams. In fact, most people can’t and won’t. And the bigger the dream, the bigger the number of disappointed individuals. Many people become depressed at the inability to accomplish their dreams. They are left withered, and broken. They spend the rest of their lives involved in a “career” by day and rotting to reruns of The Office by night until their deaths.
Lives that don’t accomplish their initial dreams don’t have to be this way. True, it is always unfortunate when someone risks life and limb to achieve their only goal and perennially comes up short. But even more unfortunate is the tale of the person who never even tries, for they are fated to be haunted by ugly “what ifs” until their last moment on earth.
Even if one fails at their “big” dream, they can attempt to achieve smaller ones. If you can’t be the next Jimi Hendrix, just focus on being the best guitar player you can be. You might not ever be great at something, but you can always be better. Dream to be better.
We might not ever make the headlines, we might not ever make millions laugh or smile, but we can still create something of ourselves. We can write, we can play, we can love, we can learn, we can aspire, and we can inspire. Life doesn’t end at the cubicle.
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