By Jay Parekh
What’s the Dream? – Part 1
[A SCAB IN TWO PARTS, THIS IS PART 1]
My phone interview with Marc was quite bad (I’m more of an experience tbh). But it got to a point where even I was bored by my answers. However, one question in particular rattled me:
‘What’s The Dream?’ Marc asked.
Had I gone to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, that question would be my Boggart. The answer would be my Golden Snitch; tantalising, yet always just out of reach. It’s a difficult question to answer because your identity becomes entwined in The Dream, and The Dream becomes a part of your identity. When The Dream changes, your identity is compromised. That’s when you’re in trouble.
The Dream does change, a lot. Especially given our indecisiveness and new experiences, it is always in flux with you. The Dream isn’t necessarily one dream either. Rather, it equates to your Dream Life, and that has many different facets in itself. Lots of teeny-tiny dreams coming together to make The Big Dream™.
I froze up when Marc asked me that question. But only a year ago I would have probably answered quickly and without pause, ‘a flat in the Barbican Estate’. It’s a pretty material and individualistic answer, but it affords a certain lifestyle and security which is desirable. It’s still part of The Dream, but definitely now a facet.
Instead the answer I gave was ‘to make good work’.
I just remember thinking ‘Wow, what a shit answer’. I wish I had just talked about all the furnishings in my soon-to-be Barbican flat. But my early-20s career angst has set in and I’ve realised I need a way to get to the Barbican first. I need a Dream Career™. There’s an honesty to my answer, but what do I mean when I say, ‘good work’? Do I want to be personally fulfilled by the quality of the work? What attests to the work being good? Should the work to be perceived by others as good? Or is it the commercial success of the work which makes it good? I often tell myself it is the former, but the prospect of it being the latter scares me. In truth, it’s a mixture of all of those components. It has to be. That’s the system that we live in; a system of compromises.
You’ve already begun to compromise. It’s taught quite early on in the form of ‘be realistic’, as dreams get turned into something more achievable (and lucrative) quite quickly. Not out of spite, but rather for your own good. The people around you don’t want to see you hurt, which is the assumed reality of unfulfilled dreams, so dreams become more realistic. After all, the world cannot support that many actors, astronauts and ballerinas.
Dreams of childhood mature, but not always. And there is a beauty in that too. The beauty of maintaining The Dream would then just be a simple matter of execution. The angst surrounding the ‘what?’ would move to the next stage of ‘how?’. Ed Sheeran outlined his career plan with, in hindsight, unnerving specificity. Excerpts of Taylor Swift’s teenage diaries are sociopathic in their ambition for stardom, famously having made her family move from Pennsylvania to Nashville at the age of 10 years old because her idols started their paths in Nashville. What if the secret to success* really is making a plan and sticking to it? Thankfully we still have some time until Boris Johnson’s ambition to be ‘World King’ is fulfilled.
1 MadMen, S05E13, The Phantom. 2012. via Marie Calvet.
[A SCAB IN TWO PARTS, END OF PART 1 OF 2]