I miss dreaming

365 Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt: What is something you miss?

When we were younger they asked us to write down what we wanted to be when we grow up. Then, we read those answers out loud.

“I want to be an astronaut, so I can go to Mars.”

“I want to be a firefighter!”

“I want to be the president of the United States.”

“I want to be an actress like Emma Stone.”

We read our answers with our eyes wide and our minds fearless.

The same question never went away as the years went along, even though the answers may have changed.

Somewhere between “Bring your child to work day” and the career tests and and personality tests that were determined to spit out what a good career for you would be, our young dreams got lost.

We quickly learned about the concept of money and what careers had more lucrative outcomes so we gravitated to those: doctors, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists. I guarantee no one had “investment banker” written down as an answer in first grade.

Then we learned about the chances of getting into certain career paths and we learned that some are harder than others. The fear was instilled in us and we didn’t want to fail. That’s when the dreams of being doctors fell off, crushed by organic chemistry. That’s when the dreams of being an engineer fell off, crushed by calculus 3. That’s when the dreams of being a lawyer fell off, crushed by debt.

Always have a backup plan, they said. Even a Plan C because not everybody can achieve their dreams and you don’t want to be left with your feet dangling over the edge undecided.

So life hardened us and we began chasing what everybody else wanted because they obviously must have it all figured out. We put each of our accomplishment in short sentences that were neatly bundled in the STAR format. Our resumes began to look the same because nobody wants to see something that is out of the norm. Drop those resumes in a stack at the desk of HR and you couldn’t tell the difference between two people who had vastly different experiences.

We learned how to talk and how to dress and how to present ourselves, so we got our dream job out of school. This was being grown up.

We walk out with the shiny degree and all the knowledge that we accumulated that will all soon go to waste.

Some of us will be stuck on the sticky subway. Some of us will tap on a screen to call an Uber (how lucky.) And some of us will sit in the parking lot known as the interstate highway wishing that everybody would work from home. All of us will try to get to work as quickly and painlessly as possible, but it rarely turns out that way.

The ubiquitous laptop will be our best friends for the next eight plus hours in this office space. We punch away only to do it all over again, sometimes pausing to think is this what I want to be when I grow up? But you know it’s not the end because even now people ask you what’s next for you. Will you be doing this forever? Do you like this city? Do you want to go back to school? What’s your end goal? Do you want to open your own firm? Practice? An office in the C suite?

Most of us dream of the end, even though it wasn’t necessarily what we had in mind in the beginning. Living someone else’s dream.

Maybe when we close our eyes we picture ourselves on stage accepting the Oscar. Maybe when we close our eyes we picture ourselves as Meredith in Grey’s Anatomy saving lives in the most dramatic fashion. Maybe when we close our eyes we picture ourselves sitting in the Oval Office.

I miss dreaming.