Michael Stemmler, The Miami Student

When I was in second grade I wanted to become a clown. At the time, I believed that clowns made people happy, and if I was one, I would be able to do the same. However, I never thought about the fact that clowns have always scared the hell out of me, so – not surprisingly – my dream changed.

This summer I worked as a camp counselor for a group of third grade boys, and on the last day of camp my partner and I sat down all our kids and asked each one what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answers ranged from being a zoologist to being a dancer, and an extreme number of them wanted to be professional athletes. Each of their answers were entirely thought through. They knew what team they wanted to play for, what animals they wanted to study, and even what type of dance they wanted to perform.

Although I loved hearing their seemingly wild and farfetched ideas, there is a certain fact that as they grow up their passions, hobbies and interests will change – leading to a change in their dreams. Not only will some change, but sadly some will stop dreaming altogether.

As students, we have our majors, we have our internships and then once we leave, we have our jobs. We are at the gateway to adulthood, but how many of us are still dreaming? Has the stress of the real world diminished our ability to believe in a crazy idea or fantasy that our younger selves would easily rally behind?

In school, our studies are focused on preparing us to achieve our dreams, but influences beyond our control often alter what we want to be. Factors such as salary, job availability and even the opinions of others force us away from what we truly want to be. Living in a society so concentrated on success has forced many to stop believing in the things that currently don’t seem possible.

As “High School Musical” once taught us, while most people want you to stick to the status quo, sometimes it’s not the way we should live our lives. A mundane routine and living up to people’s expectations don’t always give real satisfaction. While yes, it was one of the best songs of the movie, the status quo exists to be challenged. Branching out and seeing what is possible is how progress is made and, ultimately, how many people find immense success.

I’m not saying all is lost. There are plenty of dreamers still out there, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with sticking to the status quo. But, as the real-world approaches, dreams aren’t just about getting a job. We can dream about everything. We can dream to be happy, to be loved, or to belong. That is what makes dreaming so great, because it gives us something to strive for.

Do I still want to be a clown? Absolutely not. But do I still have far reaching ideas that even some of the closest people to me think are impossible? Absolutely. I’m a firm believer that dreaming only stops when we let it. When we keep striving for better, we keep dreaming of what can be. Because what’s the ultimate beauty of dreaming? Making it come true.

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