Our Dreams Reveal What We (Think We) Lack

One of my fondest dreams the last few years has been to road-trip extensively around the USA, Canada, Mexico, and South America.

There’s a lot to be said for travel. After road-tripping for a few months around the US East Coast, I can talk at lengths about the simplicity of carrying everything I own with me, or the beauty of the landscape, or any number of things.

The reason this dream appeals to me has nothing to do with any of those things. It appeals to me because it represents ultimate freedom.

Growing up, I felt keenly the yoke of others expectations. Getting up and going to school was a routine part of life for most of my peers, but I woke up every day with the feeling of irons clapped around my wrists.

To me, school was a prison sentence. My high school was one of the nicest prisons in the world, but no prison was nice enough that I could tolerate being forced to be there.

Add in some disciplinary incidences (where I was in trouble for focusing on my own personal research instead of class-assigned topics) and you get a distasteful high school experience.

College, while not legally impelled upon me, was almost as constricting. The combined weight of expectations from my parents and expectations from society left me feeling like I had no choice but to attend. I did, and I graduated after four years, but to this day I feel that it was a tremendous waste of my time.

You may find it bizarre that I’m complaining of forced education. I’ll grant that of all the things one can be forced to do, it is among the best. But even the most well-kept zoo animals wish they were free.

Thus was born my dream of travel. After a lifetime of being told where to be, where to go, and what to do, I was absolutely sick of it. I wouldn’t let anyone place a restriction on me anymore, not an employer or a landowner. I wanted to be free.

This is how it is for all of us. Some of our dreams are born of what we feel we lack.

People who grow up impoverished incorporate lack of money into their identity. They grow up to prioritize and pursue money (albeit to varying levels of success). No matter how much money they get, it’s never quite enough.

I use the word feel because, by the time we are able to act on our dreams, the limitation that birthed them is already gone. Once I graduated from college, I was free to live the #vanlife, but I was also free to get a ‘real’ job.

Getting a ‘real’ job would have made me no more free than #vanlife. The man who grew up impoverished buys luxury vehicles so he doesn’t feel poor. But the money he earned is now his, whether he buys a luxury car or invests it into the stock market.

Once we have the power to express our dreams, the hole that birthed them is already filled.