When I think about my dream-job, I think about time.
I have time.
There’s no time.
There’s enough time.
I have nothing but time.
Oh god, what if there’s no time?
The way we are taught from a young age leads us to believe that, if you can read, write, eat, drink or sleep, then you are running out of time.
Time to do what? You may ask.
Time to do anything! Time to do everything!
You can tell the time? Great, well then get to work, because it’s ticking. And it’s going. Fast.
(Luckily, I couldn’t tell time until I was 13, so I had some extra years of straight chilling).
The dream job narrative offered by society and perpetuated by the education system makes us want to hurry, have everything figured out and be in motion by the time we’re 25.
Hell, 25? You’re already 4 years late!
In London, 55% of workers said they wanted to change careers, with studies suggesting that 50-80% of people end up in the wrong line of work. A major reason why this statistic is so high is that we aren’t given the luxury of slowing down and figuring out what we want. Of course, we have years of school to realise who we are and what we like, but being scared into making decisions about our professional future so young leads to dissatisfaction, as the facts display.
When I was a young teenager, I announced to my mother that I wanted to be a recording artist. Her response was: “So does everyone – why don’t you write for them instead?”
Looking back, I love that response, and I think it was her way of letting me down easy, whilst also reminding me I have other - possibly more fruitful - gifts to manifest into dream-jobs.
Little did my mother, or I, know what lay ahead for me – a long, stressful smokers-teeth-yellow brick road of “this is the career for me…no this is…no this…”
The appeal of the jobs we want can be linked with images provoked from that job in the childish side of our minds. For me, being a recording artist stemmed from my childhood obsessions with pop singers (I’d listen to their music whilst picturing me on the stage instead of them, or me in that music video instead of them). How amazing it would be to say this was a teenager thing, but I applied for a job in Fashion Merchandising not too long ago, and I think it was because of Rachel Green working in Bloomingdales.
This proves just how ridiculous dream-jobs are, or, I should say, the importance placed on them by us as a society. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to take time out? Why can’t I change my mind on my future? We are faced with an immense pressure to curate a dream and then see it to fruition. I mean, whole industries have stemmed from this pressure: career coaches, CV websites, job-compatibility sites etc…
All of this begs the question ‘who is forcing us to pick a dream-job and why?’ I believe it starts with the education system. We are taught everything so that we can pass the exams, get into a form of higher education, to lead us into a job. So, immediately, the concept of ‘all of this is for a career’ is engrained into us; romanticising it and making us choose a dream-job creates the sense of freewill. It can also be linked with profitable interests – if you enjoy something, or are talented, we are taught to view it in a money-making way. Oh, I enjoy dancing. What jobs will this help with? (Why do you think STEM subjects are seen as more respectable than the creatives? Because maths and science contribute directly to capitalism and the military, but that’s a different topic entirely).
Like most things, when you whittle the dream-job concept down to its flesh and bones, it’s more about money/status/wealth than it is about personal happiness or fulfilment. These industries, as well as movies or TV shows that bounce off the dream-job story - remember Andy in “The Devil Wears Prada”, Eddie in “Absolutely Fabulous” or Rory Gilmore wanting to be a TV journalist straight out of University? - will have us believing that success is about earning the most and buying the best. Not every successful individual has their own office, drives a Tesla and lives in a Harvey Nichols suit, but, if they keep forcing you to believe this lie, then you’ll keep investing into it. In for a panic attack, in for a pound.
Similarly, we are fooled into thinking that getting our dream-job is the end goal. But, as soon as we get that job, it’s on to the next goal. And when you get there, the next goal. I wouldn’t put it past society to have us worrying about finding our dream nursing home (remind me to check out some retirement brochures…).
Your dream-job may change a million times before you find anything you want to stick with. I know mine has and I’m only 21. If you do find something, and then change your mind, that’s fine too. And if you have already found your dream-job, amazing!
You need time.
You have time.
There is time.