An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.
~Honore de Balzac, “Scenes de la vie Parisienne,” La Maison Nucingen, 1838
My level of stress about leaving my job has now begun manifesting itself in snappish remarks to anyone who dares speak to me and a constant eyelid twitch. I’m like Popeye with severe rage issues. Additionally, according to WebMD, I’m going blind from staring at the computer 24/7.
Many years ago, when I was a charming young naif, I dreamed of the day that I would be sitting behind a computer, muttering sarcastic comments under my breath while my eyelid fluttered uncontrollably. And just look at me today! Living the dream, people! Living the dream.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood dreams lately, and just how far short of the mark I’m hitting on a daily basis. In all fairness to myself, the vast majority of my childhood dreams were ridiculous. And so, to make myself feel better about continuously failing meet my own expectations, I’ll share those more far fetched dreams with you today.
Oh, how I wanted to be a ballerina. I began taking ballet classes long before I can even remember, and I so loved the beautiful costumes and ballet slippers that the older girls wore. I can remember sitting, hunched against the wall, watching the girls practicing en pointe, dreaming of the day that I would be just like them. When I was in 5th grade, our wonderful teacher left our school, and she was replaced by a woman who would sit on our backs to “help” us with our splits. It was around this time that I began to realize that becoming a ballerina would take a great deal of practice and require eating far fewer Cheetos than I would have liked. At nine years old, I hung up my ballet shoes for good.
I’m honestly not sure what sparked my obsession with psychiatry, but this dream lasted from 7th grade through early 9th. At some point along the way I discovered that if I really wanted to become a psychiatrist, I would have to go to medical school, and that didn’t seem like so much fun. Then I found out that a psychology degree required a statistics course. NEXT!
Mostly I just wanted to marry David Duchovny. Once I started to figure out that television shows are not real, and I would never be able to help Mulder track down creepy aliens, I kicked this idea to the curb. But not before I read up a great deal on FBI application procedures. Did you know you have to learn how to fire an actual weapon? Scary! So, you know, then I joined the Air Force. No guns there, thank goodness!
Cupcake Shop Owner
This one still sounds kind of fun sometimes for two reasons. 1) Cupcakes are delicious. 2) Frosting is delicious. But then I remember that I would have to make the cupcakes every day, probably quite early in the morning. Also, it would be beneficial to me to work rather long hours with the end goal of not going out of business. Neither one of those things sound very enjoyable, so instead I just frequent other people’s cupcake shops. It’s win-win I think.
I went through a period of intense obsession with all things NASA related in elementary school. It was sparked by a classroom exercise of writing a letter to an astronaut to tell them about ourselves. I wrote my letter to Bonnie Dunbar, and was thrilled when I received a letter back from her (read: NASA’s PR department) along with some glossy 8x10s of her headshot and their crew group photo. I was entranced and spent the next year begging my parents to buy a telescope (which I seem to remember they did do, but it disappeared shortly thereafter) and reading books and magazines about the stars. Then I saw Apollo 13. Dude, nobody told me you could get STUCK out there in space. Screw that.
So please, make me feel better about myself. Are you living your childhood dreams, or would your nine-year-old self arch an eyebrow, curl their lip and swear they’d never turn out like you?