When I was waiting to hear back from colleges during my senior year of high school, I remember thinking and saying, “I don’t want to get my hopes up” – even though I spent hours scouring through YouTube videos of the various campuses I visited and imagined myself as a student at every school.
In the midst of applying to internship after internship, I thought, “I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but here it goes.” However, as I pressed “send” and flung my resume, cover letter and writing samples into cyberspace like a defective boomerang that I had convinced myself probably wouldn’t come flinging back to me, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if, by some stroke of luck, I landed the position. I would then find myself diving into a mental dream world of success, imagining what outfit I would wear on the first day on the job.
Many would say “tsk tsk” and shake their head, writing this off as a classic case of seeing life through a pair of rose-colored glasses. (Oddly enough, my eyeglass frames are a shade of pink.)
Sure, getting excited about something that could very well not happen is a dangerous habit – but what would we do if we didn’t have goals for the future keeping us on our toes? What would life be like if we never let ourselves get excited about anything?
I think it’s sad that, in today’s day and age, we are so bogged down by the fear of failure that we have to stop ourselves from ever imagining that something will go right.
Lying in bed at night and thinking about our ultimate career aspirations, wondering if our relationship will last forever, dreaming about our nonexistent plans to travel the world, or planning the color scheme for our imaginary studio apartment in New York City (OK, maybe that’s just me) are all ways in which we are getting our hopes up – and, believe it or not, it’s human nature.
Of course, there’s a more scientific way of explaining this. Social psychologists study how people shape their “possible selves” – the idea that as humans, we are always looking to the future and imagining who and what we could be. Even more fascinating is the truth that it oftentimes takes an interaction or an experience to cause an individual to actually envision their possible self and to realize who they want to be in the future.
Platforms such as Pinterest and Tumblr, which allow users to save and categorize inspirational pictures and articles, make it easier than ever for us to visually craft our possible selves. Though we may never actually refer back to that “30 day squat challenge” article we definitely pinned over 30 days ago or review our “Say Yes to the Dress” Pinterest board with our hypothetical wedding planner, each time we save one of these images, we are imagining future versions of ourselves, and we are hoping these ideas will come to fruition.
I may get my hopes up about a lot of things, but my head is not in the clouds. I am well-aware that dreams are nothing without the persistence, creativity, resilience and hustling it takes to make them a reality.
My dreams for the future scare me, but they also inspire me. As long as I am always working to close the gap between the possible and the present, I don’t see a problem with wearing my rose-colored glasses – with the right outfit, that is.