Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Following my dream...

That staple of reality tv shows and Chinese students' English language essays, following one's dream has to be one of modern society's most potent rhetorical commonplaces. It seems to me that in the US the invocation of this idea is often used to justify violating one of the core principles of American public morality - earning money. Why are you doing such a low-paying activity? I'm following my dream. Oh, well that's alright then.

Clearly there is some value to pursuing activities that one finds interesting and even more specifically to trying to find some work or occupation that doesn't make you want to jump off a building. However, the idea of following your dream 1) should be reserved for serious cases, 2) can have deleterious effects on mental health.

1) Just because you happen to either enjoy your job or be relatively content in your everyday life does not entitle you to say that you are following your dream. People following dreams are either people involved in occupations with high barriers to entry and a large ratio of contenders to success where a rational evaluation of one's chances would lead one NOT to try for that success, or they are people who have wanted to be a geologist since they were 5 and now are a geologist having not ever seriously pursued any alternative career path. People following dreams either value the unlikely payoff extremely highly (actors etc.) or value the payoff from performing the activity regardless of the external rewards. Narrowing the definition would exclude most people from qualifying as "following their dream".

2) Surely it is no one's dream to be a middle manager in a regional paper distributor. But that does not mean that you cannot enjoy that job, nor does it mean that you cannot have a successful life if you either do not have a dream or try for a career that you end up not being successful in. The narrative that only people who follow their dreams are happy might mean that people are too rigid in choosing career paths, or that they feel like they have let themselves down if they cannot, for reasons entirely outside their control, pursue their first-choice career. It also has a tendency to overweigh life satisfaction derived from one's job and excluding the possibility of earning money to eat doing one activity (work) and spending one's leisure time doing something fun.

So, my point is that if I end up not getting a tenure-track academic job, everything will be alright (tremble).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a few points.

1) you are both dissecting the concept of having a "dream", in the middle class american sense of it, and then using the concept as a truth. Pick which one your doing.

2) The american dream means: pursuing something because you want to.....not in relevance to or in ratio to the obstacles that may lay before you in pursuing that dream.... the "dreams" your talking about are just the ones that make it onto reality tv (lets not let our dreams be designed by these brilliant reality historians shall we?). Just because the sensational “Dream” stories are the ones that make the news doesn't mean that we should define ourselves by them. A simple middle management job with a lovely husband and interesting children is a dream.

and thirdly,thrice, and there times again, maybe the dream concept is a brilliant viral marketing tool to stimulate a capitalist economy. Its awfully cool to have a "DREAM".


i.e.. The Utilitarian dream: individual dream chasing is probably a waste of everybody's time, including your own.

陳志其 said...

真正的友誼,有如健康失去時,始知其價值..................................................

MichellSommerville0202 said...

It's great!!.............................................

NeldaDotson0788 said...

Good mind, good find. ....................................................

GeraldF_Rotter雅慧 said...

18禁,聊天,免費影片,美女短片,0401,免費聊天,免費視訊,0204,78論壇,亞洲影城,視訊聊天,免費影片,聊天室,ut,成人,視訊,都都,視訊,打飛機專用網,小高聊天室,視訊,免費影片,a片免費,a片,18,免費線上視訊,日本a電影,影音視訊聊天室,貼圖區,av,383,77p2p,85cc,無碼,av影片,av專賣店,a片線上看,a圖,免費線上影片,微風成人

呈婷 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
重俐 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
韋于倫成 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.