WHEN I WAS 17, I attended a New York City business school with aspirations of becoming a rich accountant. I had it all planned out: I envisioned a corner office on Wall Street, towering high over the city with views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Each morning I was going to power-walk amid the Wall Street crowd. I never really knew what business people did for a living. My knowledge of Wall Street was limited to what I gleaned from movies and a story my father told me about my cousin the insurance broker, who “made good” for a while, but it didn’t work out for him, so he moved to Florida.
About three semesters in, I uncovered that I wasn’t wired for accounting, nor did I have the social networks that could reinforce such an endeavor. No one told me that accounting would be mostly about accounting for money that didn’t belong to me.
I had inherited a dream with little substance. I was infatuated with a vision that was like an elaborate Hollywood set. While my dream process was somewhat typical of teenage development, it nevertheless demonstrates how imaginations can be shaped by the far-reaching stories we receive. And our identities can become shaped by our service to capitalist aspirations.