Astronauts and Allegories

In which Carrie’s young filosopher friend considers the ambitions of children and difficulties they face because of the American debt crisis ….

Guest Post: Roisin

Ask a kindergartener  what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll hear cliche answers such as doctor, veterinarian, astronaut. Grade schoolers and middle schoolers answers are more diverse. Still a common element is significantly found in all young children’s answers when asked what they imagine themselves to be in the future; all of them have their hopes set high. No one tells the child with her eyes fixed upon the moon how unlikely it is to make it into the space program. No one tells the child, plastic stethoscope in hand, that his family would never be able to afford medical school. How dare we squash innocent ambition? Reality will eventually sink in, I suppose, somewhere between the first high school report card and that meeting about tuition with your college counselor. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Hard work in life doesn’t automatically equate to monetary funds. Sometimes, it seems like we live in an unfair society. That years of hoping and dreaming and long hours and idealizing are trampled upon and reduced to more “practical” careers. And suddenly, that little astronaut who could is left to merely gaze in envy at the moon.

Yes, I’ve realized that I’m probably not the first kid who claimed to be future president. I know many before me have vowed to change the world. As I prepare to enter college, with all it’s built up glory and anticipation, I’ve encountered an unanticipated obstacle. Money.

Naive, I know.

Forgive me for believing that good grades and pure drive were enough to get a student an education in this country. Forgive me for even posing to ask the question of why the cost of self improvement escalates into the thousands of dollars. Then. Forgive me for being so selfish.

Life is hard. It’s been said before. Our dreams slowly change from being a doctor, to becoming a mother or a secretary or a carpenter. It’s not about the occupation. It’s about being happy. Who am I to say that one dream is bigger or better than another? The enlightened one in Plato’s allegory discovered that his previous games and awards were nothing compared to what awaited him on the outside, in the light. In the light I see that title or money really doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. What matters is having a dream. Strive to reach it, no matter what. No matter if that dream is to become an astronaut or secretary. Those who say that your dream is “impractical” are still living in a cave, and they’ll view things differently. Their awards consist of nothing but shadows and titles and money and none of that truly matters.

I think that inside, we all still carry that flame of a goal. A goal perhaps deemed unreachable by a insensitive teacher or friend. It’s true, in the end we cannot all be the President. But some one has to be, right?


About the Author:
Roisin is a senior in high school and spends her time playing basketball, writing, attempting to understand her AP Statistics homework and contemplating what exactly Kant was talking about…. (when she figures it out, she says she’ll get back to us).  Roisin loves being outdoors and hopes to attend university in Montana.


4 responses to “Astronauts and Allegories

  • Jon

    If you are interested in medicine … look here:

    Dream with service to others.

  • Steven Schultz

    I can sympathize. I’ve had thoughts and experiences in the college application process.

  • Carrie Ebner

    When I first entered college I wanted to be an artist of the stage. I remember I was in a musical one winter, The Mikado, and ran into one of my co-cast fellows on a walk in the park. He was an older gentleman and probably knew a lot more about the world than I. But when I answered that I wanted to be an actress when I finished my degree, he laughed and cut my dream in half with some realism:

    “You have a better chance of becoming the President of the United States than an actress.”

    This dashing of my dreams by a cynical somebody was later understood to be a statistics-based hypothetical. How many flock to Hollywood each year with an eye on the silver screen? How hard must one work to build political connections and the mental chutzpah to become a world leader?

    But, importantly, what does this world leader need to think about before pursuing that path? What must she be like morally? Or who must he care about to bring about a successfully-run nation? What were our Greek philosophers really prescribing to a future leader like you and me?

    I’m working on those questions myself, and wondering at the level of responsibility involved in a public service job such as that. The cynical man was probably right, which is why I’ve abandoned my first dream of the shining life of performance art and have found myself entangled in multiple others relating to re-humanizing humanity.

    And when you get to college you will be unstoppable as a force for good.

    This is a neat video about education reform:


    • Carrie Ebner

      Advice from my dad:

      There are some things that college students can do to reduce the impact of high college costs.

      1. Attend a 2 year community college to get the basic bachelor’s degree requirements out of the way at a greatly reduced cost compared to a 4 year university. And with a little luck, you can stay at home with family to reduce room and board expenses.

      2. Attend a public university (like Portland State, OSU, UO) versus a private university (U of Portland, Reed College, Willamette U.). The price for a public university can be about 1/2 a private university.

      3. Apply for scholarships, particularly if you are a great student and have a family financial need. There are lots of scholarships available. High school students should talk to their conselors and ASPIRE program leaders to learn more about available scholarships.

      4. Enter the Work/Study program at college. That is, apply for work at the college to earn money for tuition, etc. Cafeteria employment is a good example.

      5. Work part time outside of college to earn money. 20 hours a week is reasonable. Many students do this and having done it myself, it was not too bad and didn’t really impact my education performance.

      6. Apply for student loans but keep them as low as possible. Try to make them your last resort for funding college.

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