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Dream Jobs Are Nightmares

Scott C. Reynolds has an interesting column in McSweeny’s Quarterly. It’s called Dream Jobs You’re Glad You Didn’t Pursue and it’s welcome balm to any laborer who has sat back, sighed, and asked “wouldn’t it all be better if I was in another line of work–doing something I dreamed about when I was kid?”

Mr. Reynolds’ column imagines what your dream career would have looked like if you bothered to pursue it.

If you wanted to be an archaeologist in the vein of Indiana Jones Reynolds believes that your career wouldn’t be filled with adventures and monumental discoveries. Instead, Reynolds assumes your career would probably be paralyzed after a bad dig in Egypt. “The best you could manage was a job teaching American History” Reynolds explains, “at an underfunded public school in central Florida.”

Or perhaps you wanted to be a computer programmer. You’d assume that if you had learned different computer languages, you would have joined the ranks of  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. But Reynolds predicts that things wouldn’t have gone so swimmingly. “After a decade” Reynolds writes, “you ended up managing a team, no longer able to spend time on the one thing you wanted to do most: writing code. Your job became taking young programmers who love what they do and extracting their souls, motivating them to follow the same path you did.

The negativity in Reynolds’ column is charming because it makes you positive about your current job. Next time you sit back and wonder what your dream career would have been like try to think of all the things that could have easily turned it into a nightmare. That way you won’t feel like you senselessly betrayed your childhood dreams.



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