(Featured Image photo credit to NASA. You guys keep on being awesome.)
Whenever I receive a checkup with my doctor he always asks what I want do when I grow up. The answer was always computer related. Now I answer I want to be a computer programmer. I have other interests besides computers though. I played alto saxophone for 9 years. I have a love of roller coasters. I picked up longboarding last year. I enjoy playing video games. But I answer, I want to be a computer programmer.
What happens to childhood dreams, where do they go, why do they leave us? When we are kids we are filled with wonder and excitement. The entire world is new to us, we believe we can achieve anything. We can be firefighters, astronauts, doctors, and lion tamers. We have dreams about becoming president or discovering new life deep in the ocean. Around the age of 10 I wanted to grow up and make educational games that kids would enjoy. When I was 15 I wanted to create video games, I would make small games and get my friends to play them. Now it’s been a while since I’ve worked on a video game project on my own and I’m a CS and Game Design major.
The major thing that changes is the fact that we grow up, we get older, we experience highs and lows, reality slaps us in the face over and over and over again. We learn about the great beauty the world has to offer us and we dream even bigger. We experience the kindness a single human being can offer and we strive to be like them. We watch great feats other people achieve and we call them our heroes. For the longest time my hero was Tiger Woods. Since 10 I wanted to be the next Tiger Woods. My first email address was email@example.com (n = next, t = tiger, w = woods, at 18 years old). I forgot the password to that email address soon after I made it so then made ntwat17. I didn’t realize that my email contained the word twat until a girl mentioned it to me at age 16 when my group at a conference was sharing emails. (BTW I still use the second email I made, fuk da police).
As we learn through out the course of growing up, life isn’t all that great. It’s actually pretty horrible sometimes. People can be absolutely vile to each other. We learned that when two planes flew into two New York towers. We learned that when one group of people brutally murdered another group of people in a small country called Rwanda. We learn that when we hear whispers about the crimes being committed in a country just north of South Korea. We continuously learn that when we hear about innocent civilians being killed by our county’s hands in a war that has spanned about 50% of our lifetimes. We continuously learn that when we hear about the constant bloodshed in a strip of land just north of Egypt and just west of Jordan. We hear about all these things and ask ourselves why people do these things to each other. Along the way we also stop asking ourselves why people do these things to each other. We learn about death and why we should never kill another human. We learn what one human did to other humans and then we nod in agreement on how we should kill another human.
Reality slaps us in the face. To become an astronaut you learn you have to get near perfect grades in school and receive tons of training. Firefighting is extremely dangerous and does not pay nearly enough to survive on. Getting into the games industry is challenging and conditions can be extremely stressful. Getting anywhere in life cannot be powered solely on dreams. We learn this and one by one we pop our dream bubbles. We store them away in the back storage room of our mind. We ground ourselves in reality and every once in a while we go back to that storage room, open up a box, and briefly bask in the feelings that were our dream. Maybe when we earn enough money we can finally live our dreams. Maybe when we have enough time we can finally live our dreams. Maybe when we retire we can finally live our dreams.
Some people do live their dreams but reality slaps them in the face as well. Nothing is as rosy as dreams make them out to be. Reality is everywhere and it has its hand poised and ready to slap you in the face. This is a fact of life. Nothing goes perfectly. We hope for the best but when we are falling we can only hope we don’t hit the ground to hard and when we are rising we hope we stop among the stars…as an astronaut or something like that.