American poet Langston Hughes famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” These days, some of us become fortunate enough to see the other side of the quandary: What happens when you achieve your dream, and then you wish you hadn’t? The Wall Street Journal investigates:
It’s a surprisingly common dilemma. The idea of a “dream job” is drilled into job seekers these days. Increasingly, people expect to find jobs that provide not only a living but also stimulation, emotional fulfillment and a sense of purpose. The image of a career as a source of passion is promoted by career advisers, self-help books and even the glamorous characters in TV dramas. But fantasies about a job can blind job-seekers to workaday realities and to consideration of the best fit.
By “job seekers,” of course, this article means “millennials,” as becomes clear when you read on and see that the people given as examples are both young women. Since millennials have long been indoctrinated with the insidious advice that we should Do What We Love, we have been butting our heads against cold, hard realities of the workplace for years now. Like that most of us cannot afford to do what we love, because what we love doesn’t pay (enough). Or there isn’t something remotely career-ish that we love.
Both women profiled in this piece are the kind of well-educated, photogenic yuppies who could someday appear in the Vows section of The New York Times. Though their dream jobs — National Security Expert! Advertising Executive! — turn out to be not so much elusive as unsatisfying, the jobs they switch to — Career Coach! Marketing Exec! – are still definitely somebody’s dream jobs, especially because both women end up working for themselves. I’m more interested in dramatic mid-career course corrections, which are both harder and more interesting. A professional ballroom dancer I know went back to school in his 40s to become a nurse. How many men are doing something like that? If you look into it, WSJ, let me know.
Image via The Undercover Recruiter