Thought Catalog

A Breakup Letter To My Dream Job

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TC Flickr
TC Flickr

Dear Dream Job,

Stop playing coy with me. Just when I think I have you figured out, you change your mind.

I should just stop chasing you already. It’s delusional to think that anything will happen between us, but I can’t help myself. My feelings can best be expressed by quoting the 2007 indie sensation Juno: you are “the cheese to my macaroni.”

That said, our unrequited love story is growing tiresome.

The beginning was innocent enough. While the other preschool girls’ dream jobs consisted of the highly aspirational — Sleeping Beauty — I set my sights on something real: Olympic figure skater. Dream Job, you had me at “Olympic.” But unfortunately, we never had a chance; my mother claimed that figuring skating was “too expensive.”

In elementary school, you told me to be a lawyer because my parents told me I was so good at negotiating and arguing. Truthfully, my only knowledge of what a lawyer actually did came from the old Matlock reruns.

But I moved on. Dream Job, a professional actress? That’s a lot of pressure to put on a 12-year-old girl with kinky hair, braces, and abnormally large glasses. But, my mother refused to pull me out of classes for auditions. Even though she didn’t understand, I knew that in order for me to be a famous child actress, I’d have to make some sacrifices.

In high school, you became more realistic with speech pathology. It sounded noble, and I had convinced myself that because I had struggled with a stutter my whole life, it was a perfect Lifetime story. Dream Job, I never had a stutter.

By college you were all over the place with three majors. Eventually you settled on publishing. But you knew I would never move to New York! Even worse, you threw that actress thing back into the mix, giving you sadistic pleasure in watching me get those awful headshots and hearing my acting teacher yell at me to stop imitating Molly Shannon.

Upon graduation, you told me to just “apply to as many jobs as possible” and take the first one. You were being really lazy when you led me into working at a strange internet company. So lazy in fact, you left me there and didn’t come back for years.

Where did you go? Why did you leave me? I spent so many years asking myself what I had done to deserve feeling so completely and utterly lost. You let me suffer through unemployment, demeaning work, false hope, and a general feeling of unrest for months. I waitressed, freelanced, interned, and applied for degrees I would never pursue. I watched friends move forward with their own dream jobs, while you left me feeling so alone in my own limbo. In 25 years, it was the first time I doubted you.

But I found a new job. It wasn’t you, Dream Job, but it was a job. It helped me gain back my confidence. I’ve been working so hard to get close to you but every time I keep thinking that I’ve got you, I don’t. And Dream Job, I’m tired. I’m almost 28, and I just can’t keep up with you the way I used to when I was younger.

I’m done chasing after you, because I don’t even know if you really exist. At the end of the day a dream job is just a job, and work is just work. And no matter how much you love your job, it’s still hard to get up on a Monday morning with an eight-hour day ahead of you, and not yearn for Saturday.

If I set unattainable and unrealistic goals for myself, I’ll never be successful. All I can do is strive to be better, try to find work that fulfills me enough to get up every day, and fill in the holes with whatever makes me happy. Live for the days when I do something great, produce something new, or even when I start new relationships. Because Dream Job, that’s what matters, not an idealistic, perfectly cool, creative, fulfilling, selfless job that somehow also makes me tons of money.

Dream Job, I guess this is a break up letter. We’re done. I’m not going to write you any more, so please stop trying to find me. I don’t need you anymore because I’ve decided that whatever I’m doing at any moment that brings me the smallest inkling of joy is my new measure of success. So, this is goodbye. Go find some new little preschool sap that wants to be president or something. I’m moving on.

P.S. I will send you a box of journal entries, blog posts, trite poetry, doodles, photos, and any other paraphernalia that belong to you.

Love always,
Heather TC mark

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