When Robert Hallett was a kid, he wanted to be an astronaut. Everybody did. It was the 1960s, the era of NASA’s exhilarating space shuttle program, and schoolchildren gathered in cafeterias to watch, mesmerized, as miraculous takeoffs and moon landings crackled across tiny black-and-white TVs.
Astronauts seemed to have the most glamorous jobs imaginable: They were superheroes, explorers, scientists. “They were amazing people,” Hallett tells Quartz. “They flew from earth to the moon not knowing what they were going to see.” Who wouldn’t dream of becoming one of them?
Of course, our childhood dreams don’t always crystallize into reality. One recent survey found that only 10% of American adults held their childhood dream jobs. Would-be actors decide to prioritize financial security. Aspiring doctors have the wind taken out of their sails in a tough organic chemistry class. Some lack the confidence to pursue their goals. And some decide, as Hallet did, that a childhood aspiration of flying to the moon just isn’t realistic, and pursue degrees in geology and law instead.