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The Dream Hooks Us Early

My wife and I are deep in the kindergarten public school search for our son. This is a particularly intense process in New York City.

It’s a priority-based lottery system. The priorities take into account zones, districts and siblings. For us, because we don’t want to send our son to our zoned school, it means lots of research, as well as many tours and applications.

We attended our first tour two weeks ago and our second this past week. I Tweeted this after the first tour -

A follower I know well and enjoy interacting with on Twitter sent this reply -

Yet even through Yale isn’t the point for us, Jehan had a point. It’s been in my consciousness since then.

The comment got me thinking about how early The Dream catches us. For some, the on-ramp may be as early as kindergarten.

My sense is that once one enters the on-ramp, there’s no turning back. Life only starts moving faster the older we get. If not conscious about it, we gain momentum on The Dream’s slippery slope. We become increasingly invested in and focused on The Dream’s path.

As life gets busier and more complex, decisions become more automatic. The Dream Pushers like it this way. They claim to make the decisions easier. They do this by providing a well known and accepted path. We confuse this ease with stability and comfort.

Before we know it, The Dream is the only game in town. It’s the only path we see.

If we do happen to second-guess The Dream, we feel too invested to change course. The switching cost is too high. We have too many responsibilities.

We may tell ourselves that once we hit a certain Dream milestone, we’ll take the next exit off The Dream highway.

Yet when we reach that exit, we’re going so fast we fly right past it.

We hurdle toward the next milestone, then the next and then the one after that, at ever increasing speeds.

It’s my sense that this is one aspect of The Dream that give it such a powerful grasp on us.

How about you? When did you take The Dream’s on-ramp? What exit do you hope to take?

P.S. - This was originally published in my free weekly newsletter here.