Why I Let My Childhood Dreams Die

Right now, I make most of my living as a writer and performer. I am very happy. I’m pretty much living the dream. Well, I’m living a dream. I had lots of other aspirations as a child that withered as I approached adulthood. Even though things are wonderful in my life, I regret not pursuing some of my other passions. Here are my abandoned childhood dreams and the reasons I ditched them:

The Dream: Mad Scientist

The Appeal

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than a laboratory (pronounced “la-BOR-a-tor-y”) full of beakers bubbling with brightly colored concoctions. I imagined developing potions to turn people into werewolves or shrink things down to 1/100 their regular size. The godlike power and creative freedom seemed like a real opportunity for a self-starter with lots of initiative.

So, What Happened?

I was disabused of this dream at a young age. Given my goal of a career in mad science, I practically begged for a chemistry set for Hanukkah. When my very kind parents obliged, I was sorely disappointed by the kit’s actual capabilities. Oh, great. I could mix some liquids together, and they would turn a strip of paper from blue to red? Sounds like a lot of fun. Not. Wake me up when there’s a chemistry set that lets you become invisible, I thought, and I never turned back.

The Dream: NBA Player

The Appeal

Sure, professional basketball players make lots of money, drive fancy cars, and travel the world. But 14-year-old me was obsessed with the idea of being able to dunk and get paid for it. There are lots of other parts to the game of basketball (help defense, position rebounding), but dunking is by far the most exciting. Just ask Blake Griffin. If I could dunk, I would do it all day, and I wouldn’t even care if I got paid. That’s for real.

So, What Happened?

This one is pretty straightforward. I have poor vision. I don’t have a great workout regimen. I am 5’9”. An NBA career was not in the cards. In fact, if I’d even made a Division III college team, it would have been an underdog story that would have made Rudy look like one of the evil aliens from Space Jam.

The Dream: Starship Captain

The Appeal

When I say starship captain, I don’t mean a leather vest wearing space-bro like Han Solo. I’m talking about a board-certified spaceship commander with dignity and a form-fitting one piece uniform. I’m talking about Jean Luc Picard. I wanted to command the Enterprise and have a holodeck and drink Earl Grey Tea. I don’t even like tea, but Captain Picard made it look good, know what I mean? Plus, phasers, photon torpedos, and transporters. I was ready to fill out an application for Starfleet Academy and pray for financial aid.

So, What Happened?

Being an astronaut is a lot about knowing science, and hardly at all about hanging out and fighting holograms for fun. It’s also about not puking on rollercoaster-like apparatuses, and my record for that is pretty good, but I don’t think I’m ready to go pro. Also, there’s no such thing as a photon torpedo, and I can’t seem to commit to a Patrick Stewart style full-chrome hairdo.

The Dream: Lawyer

The Appeal

When I was a kid, I was really into arguing. I liked the idea of getting to yell: “OBJECTION!” Side note: My parents did not take kindly to my yelling: “OBJECTION!”

So, What Happened?

Law school seemed like a real drag. I mean, I already knew how to yell: “OBJECTION!” So, like, what else did I need to know?

The Dream: Police Officer

The Appeal

Protecting. Serving. Getting the bad guys. Being a hero. When you’re a kid, police officers are the coolest. They drive cars. Fast. They have badges and guns. People listen to them. It’s the opposite of being in kindergarten. It’s very appealing.

So, What Happened?

Once, when I was driving in Wisconsin, a police officer pulled me over to tell me that the lights in my rental car weren’t on all the way. He helped me find the controls and sent me off. It was very kind of him. That, to date, is the only interaction I’ve had with an officer of the law that made me think: “This guy seems like a co-worker I’d like to spend time with. He doesn’t seem like he’s into hassling people for no reason at all.” All the other officers I’ve dealt with seem a little, let’s say, uptight.

The Dream: Professional Musician

The Appeal

The good parts of being in a band are amazing. Throngs of screaming fans. Going on tour and relating to Bob Seger songs. Even the bad parts of being in a band are kind of great. Who wouldn’t want to kick the lead singer out of their group for doing all of the heroin? It’s an adventure!

So, What Happened?

In high school, I decided to play trombone. Then ska stopped being popular, and I was out of luck. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Shutterstock

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