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The Allure of Dreamcrushing

Written By: Hannah Kanfer 

I was sitting at my desk, working from home and grinding along on a PowerPoint and an endless stack of Asana tasks, I noticed my small but prominent tattoo, “So it Goes”.

This tattoo is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the late and great Kurt Vonnegut, whose work was the catalyst for me becoming a writer and incidentally getting his words permanently tattooed on my body in Italy one summer at 20 years old.

 Or so I thought . . . 

How could a vagabond writer on the cusp of adulthood fall so seamlessly and without even a fight into the golden handcuffs of corporate America?

Well, it happens to more of us than you think.

As the American dream has become a long-distant memory in the minds of some (and not even a reality for many more) a more insidious concept has taken its place in modern American culture and I call it “dreamcrushing”. 

Those of us who came of age after the 2008 recession may know this phenomenon more than others, but anyone who has dealt with realists, the risk-averse, or downright pessimists has probably experienced dreamcrushing in some form or another. 

It is the act of crushing one's own dream in pursuit of “being realistic”.

This can be as simple as skipping out on a lottery ticket or a theater audition or choosing a more classic wardrobe addition instead of splurging for a statement piece. Sure, it is easier to skip an audition and save yourself the embarrassment or put the hot pink stilettos back on the shelf but there is part of you that wonders . . .

. . . What if?

But oftentimes and in my case, it can mean settling for the “easy” and “safe” career. Now don’t get me wrong, those who choose their careers purely because they need the money, the benefits, and stability are noble pursuits and I would never knock those who are just trying to provide. But I am advocating for choosing these paths on your terms. 

I know there is an aspect of privilege that comes with calling it dreamcrushing instead of reality but I also know I’m far from the only person unfulfilled in corporate America. 

At one of my old companies, I was tasked with writing speeches for our C-suite and high-level executives. I would watch these executives get up and give amazing speeches, speeches that I wrote, and get all the praise. Instead of feeling proud of this extra line to add to my resume, all I could think was, Wow - I wasted my talents on that. 

It is easy to crush our dreams. It's easy to say, “It would have never worked out,” and to reframe our fear of failure, rejection, and disappointment as empowerment. But in reality, all it does is rob ourselves of living the life we want. 

I’m not saying everyone should go out, quit their jobs, and become marine biologists or major league baseball players. But I am saying those dreams we hide deep inside ourselves that don’t go away with age or time are worth pursuing and are worth the time and pain that comes from it. 

Often the first step is admitting you have a dream and owning it. Allow yourself the freedom to indulge in whatever pursuits call your name without shame that they may be futile efforts, that’s the whole point, is it not? That it's worth it even without payout. 

Of course, when I submitted this piece I was scared of rejection but the reward is worth it. 

At my truest self, I am a writer. This is a fact intrinsic to myself. 

My writer self and my corporate self - we are a package deal, so take it or leave it. 

The world is harsh enough with plenty of people ready to crush your dreams themselves. 

Don’t grant them the satisfaction of doing it yourself.


Meet the Author

Hannah Kanfer

Hannah is a freelance writer and journalist based in Alabama. When she's not writing, you can find her hiking with friends or lost in the pages of a good book.


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