Adulthood and Dreams: Why So Many Adults Give Up and Fall into Despair


When we were children, one of our favorite questions to answer was probably “What you do want to be when you grow up?” Every time we hear that our imaginations would automatically run wild, picturing ourselves in various professions and levels of success.

And because we’re too young and innocent, we thought that the ticket to making all our dreams come true is growing up. In other words, adulthood.

But as adults, we don’t seem as motivated in realizing our dreams anymore. Despite earning our own money and living independently, we still feel “trapped”, as if we’re going to be stuck in between our youth and paying bills forever.

Sad, but this is true for many millennials. We see adulthood as a series of actions, instead of a state of being. As such, we hate “adulting”, and some of us resist it, to the point where it brings us to total despair and poor mental health.

man overwhelmed by multiple tasks

Why Adults Stop Chasing Their Dreams

As kids, we saw adults as a figure of stability, someone perfectly capable of making things happen, like make dreams a reality. But now that we’ve grown up, we’ve realized that adults aren’t much different from children after all. We still fear the same things we did as kids, such as judgment, failure, and losing control.

These fears are more intense in adulthood, causing us to lose confidence in chasing our dreams. Fear of judgment, for one, is already enough to hold us back, because it makes us assume that failing once will earn us perpetual judgment from our peers. Even if nobody is giving comments about our careers, or life in general, we still tend to believe otherwise. We always feel as if there are eyes watching us, waiting for us to make a mistake.

As a result, many of us get lost in our path. Instead of following our own dreams, the ones we’ve had since our childhood, we’d play it safe and give in to society’s standards and pressures. For example, if we wanted to be an artist, we’d feel ashamed because it doesn’t earn as much as lawyers, engineers, or doctors. So we’d abandon that original dream, and become someone with a “normal” job, so that society won’t judge us.

But this is exactly what makes us fall into despair. We only focus on what could go wrong, instead of what can go right. It may be true that artists don’t earn as much as lawyers, but if we work hard to hone our skills and diversify our portfolio, we’d become renowned personalities in the industry, and thus get paid higher.

And yes, failure is frightening, but nobody reaches their goals without failing at some point. Even the most successful CEOs and founders like Mark Zuckerberg, Colonel Sanders, Bill Gates, and others have failed miserably before becoming what we know of them today.

Therefore, strive to change your perspective, and view adulthood the way you did as a kid: A person with more wisdom, experience, and most of all, the ability to make things happen, such as make your dreams come true. You may not have everything under control, but that doesn’t include your reactions, attitudes, and grit. The more you overcome your fears, the closer you get to realizing your dreams.

Chasing the Wrong Dream

Sometimes, your despair isn’t necessarily a case of fear, but rather, of chasing the wrong dream.

As stated in the example above, aspiring artists can give in to peer or familial pressure, pushing them to go after a different goal, which is set by others and not by themselves. If manipulation is involved, the aspiring artist can mistakenly believe that they’ve really changed their dream, and now truly wanted a more “conventional” profession.

If such a situation hits home for you, pause and assess whether it’s really your dream that you’re chasing. Determine if you’re being your authentic self, and not someone modeled by another person. It is crucial to be who you really are because being someone’s ideal person will cost you your sense of identity, leaving you in constant confusion and discontentment.

Furthermore, discern if you’re chasing a dream because of the fulfillment it’ll give you, not merely for its comfort and security. Choosing a “normal” profession that you don’t actually want is usually a sign that you’re in it for security and comfort only. But if you take the risks that come along with the career you truly desire, you’d realize that comfort and security are two things you can sacrifice for a time, then earn tenfold when you succeed.

Lastly, persistent mental health issues are the biggest signs that you’re chasing the wrong dream. In this case, a clinical psychologist will help you get out of that trap until you rediscover who you are and chase your real dreams again.

Adulthood may be uneasy, but it isn’t supposed to be miserable, either. By embracing our inner child and proudly fulfilling our own goals, we’d grow bigger than our fears, and never dread aging again.

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