As kids, we are often told by our parents and elders that we can be whatever we want to be and that we should dream big. Our impressionable and naïve minds cling onto to these phrases and as we develop, we start to imagine all there is to know about the careers we could possess. Thus, it creates this journey inside us to figure out who we are and what we want to be in this world. Phrases such as, “When I grow up I want to be…” become a topic of conversation with our peers and if we were to not know how to finish the sentence, a sense of inadequacy would ensue. If we were to transition to higher education after high school and still have not figured out what we want to do with our lives, there could be pressure weighed upon us by other adults or even strangers. As a society, we put so much emphasis on professional labels and wanting to know what other people do with their time. Growing up in America, there seems to be an obsession with finding out what someone does for a living instead of how they might be doing mentally.
It seems like social suicide if we were to quietly admit that, just maybe, we don’t want to aspire to be “anything”. Especially when we are young, the need to compare and compete with our colleagues based on who has the best career or who does the most honest work is ingrained in us from the moment we start school. Whether it be through our parents complimenting on how much smarter or talented we are compared to our siblings or our favorite teacher making an example of us in front of the class, we develop a sense of self through other people’s perceptions. Therefore, if we were to struggle internally with the path we want to go down (if we even want to go down one at all), we would not only fail ourselves but other people who had so much faith in us.
But, what if we didn’t have any aspirations or dreams to be anything special? Would it really be a crime? During times like these, it could be difficult to find any motivation to want to strive for a big goal or to become something notable. Surviving might be the most note-worthy thing that a person can handle, and that is okay. At the end of the day, our accomplishments, awards, achievements, and goals do not come with us to the grave. How much money we can accumulate in our bank account and the amount of trophies that we obtained as a kid do not carry over into the afterlife, if there is one. There is no promise that people will even remember what we did or who we are a century from now. Internalizing these hard truths, we can start to feel better about not having the fancy job title or that we may be struggling with unemployment or that the only job that we feel comfortable doing is taking care of our loved ones. If you don’t have any aspirations or a “dream job”, it is ok. Being exceptional is not a necessity of life nor will it make you any better or worse than the next person. If anything, we should normalize being okay with just existing and doing what we can to make the world a little bit better, even if that just means being kind to others.