Are lifelong dreams all they're cracked up to be?

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I will give a simple answer to the question now to avoid surprises later on - no. Abandon them. Lifelong dreams do nothing but hold you back. Or crush you. This may seem horribly pessimistic - perhaps it is - but it may also turn out to be an essential piece of life advice.


It’s important to be realistic. I would love to play rugby for England, but am realistic enough to see that my chances are slim as I languish in my college B team. Many, however, are not. For every famous sportsman, actor, singer, there are hundreds of disappointments cast onto the ever growing pile of overly-ambitious flops having to adjust to the realities of life in the real world. It may seem harsh to kick these people when they are down, but most of you are no more sympathetic when it comes to the ritual ridiculing that is the X-factor auditions. If you aim for the stars, then you are more likely to come crashing back down to earth than hit the moon.


Now, for the more realistic among you, I urge you to be equally careful; it is fine if you always wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or police detective, but take off the rose-tinted glasses for a moment to consider whether it is the right path. In the words of Tim Minchin, “If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out of the corner of your eye”. Life is more about giving yourself opportunities than deciding what those opportunities will be; it is not foolish to spend your £9000 a year on a University education with no idea what the outcome will be. There will be opportunities, and it would be a shame to miss out because they are not the opportunity you decided on as an eight-year-old aspiring doctor enthralled by Casualty for the first time.


You may wish to reject what I say as the ramblings of an unambitious, deluded cynic, but before you do, I would like to reject at least one of those accusations: not having a dream is not the same as being unambitious. Put all your effort into what is immediately before you: your latest essay, interview or even B team rugby match. You could say I was cynical. Deluded? Probably. But unambitious? Definitely not. Dreaming is wonderful: an idyllic world where everything is wonderful and your job is wonderful and your family is wonderful and… you get the idea. Just make sure you then wake up, let the dream fade away and focus your ambition on the challenges ahead.


Dan Nuttall

English Literature student at Durham University. Will write on almost anything. Hope you enjoy!

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