Remember when you were young and you had a dream job? Or when you were a teen and that dream job became a slightly more realistic one (after all, not everyone can be an astronaut)? What happened with that? Did you actually fulfill your dream? Are you living it?
For most of us in the real world, our dream for our lives and our real lives are not one and the same. That’s not to say that most of us have failed miserably. Or even that we’re unhappy with where we ended up. I’m just saying that for most of us, what we thought of when someone said “Follow your dream” and what we’re actually doing on a day-to-day is not the same thing.
When you think about it, that’s not actually all that surprising. As with the example of the astronaut, our dreams for our lives are generally much loftier than what’s realistic. Hell, I wanted to be a rockstar by day and a cop by night. Even if I made it through the police academy AND had enough talent and luck to become a rockstar, there’s no way I could do both. The time demands for a policeman are much higher than purely evening hours, and I wouldn’t be able to tour unless I was on vacation, which would clearly only be doing half of my dream at any given time. Besides, most concerts take place at night. At least I got a killer 80s TV show concept out of it (if any TV execs are reading this – let’s talk).
It’s also not very surprising that most of us don’t end up actually following our dreams because life has this funny little characteristic of complete unpredictability. I mean, one day you’re on track to become Nebraska’s greatest corporate lawyer, and the next you’re a bearded biker nomad traveling the country dishing outlaw justice pro bono (man, I’m just full of great TV show concepts). Maybe not quite to that degree, but more often than not we’ve experienced bumps, turns, and complete 180s in the road of life. They shaped us into the wonderfully weird unique beings that we are. But that also led us to live a life we couldn’t have anticipated.
So what are you supposed to do about it? Should you drop everything you’re doing, hit the nuclear reset button and attain that dream you had so long ago? Probably not. I mean sure, if you wake up one day and are unhappy with the life you’re living, then by all means change it. Or if the path that life has taken you down isn’t the best, and you’re in a tough situation, absolutely get out of it as best you can. But if you’re generally happy with where you’re at in spite of the fact that it’s not exactly where you intended to be, then I say keep forging ahead.
The fact that you didn’t necessarily end up where you started should be celebrated. It means that you let life happen, and you just went with it. While you ended up in an unexpected place, you experienced things you never thought you’d get to experience. And if you were really passionate about your dream, then chances are it’s still a part of your life. So I’ll take a page out of everyone’s favorite Texan (sorry LBJ), and say just keep livin’. Here’s a link ‘ol McConnaughey explaining it in his own, deep, words.
Like with my original rockstar/cop dream. I may not be a rockstar, but music is still an ever-present part of my life. I moved on and became things that I expected and things I have not, but it’s still a meaningful part of my life. In fact in some ways it’s more meaningful to my life because it’s not my job. It’s the thing that I can do to forget about my job. And as for the cop part to that dream, well, I do have a uniform, and I do use it at night. But it’s mostly held together with velcro and is accompanied by the song It’s Raining Men. Taking down evil in the world one lap-dance at a time. I even think I may actually get paid for it soon.