By M. Silverman
When I was younger, like many other children, whenever I passed a wishing fountain I would toss a coin in and make a wish. My wishes would be for a variety of things, like getting ice cream later that day or becoming a millionaire. Although I understood that, logically, throwing change into a fountain would not actually do anything, I still believed on some level that the harder I wished for something, the more likely it was that it would happen. I, like most children, believed in magic. I believed that if I wished hard enough and threw enough coins into fountains, all of my dreams would come true (as long as I never told anyone what I wished for, of course). Children unconditionally trust the messages they learn from movies and television shows, messages that tell them that good things will happen if they are nice and that all their wishes will come true. I fell victim to this line of thinking, and I threw coin after coin into fountains, believing that it would make good things happen to me.
As I grew up and matured, I slowly stopped believing in the power of wishing fountains, yet everytime I passed one I still threw a coin in and made a wish. The habit was so deeply ingrained in me that although I no longer had a reason to toss money into a fountain, I still did it. This just shows the power of childhood beliefs and how they affect you for years afterward, even though you no longer believe in them. Now that I am much older, I know that this is technically a waste of money, but what began as a childish hope ended up becoming a nostalgic routine.
While all the change I have thrown into wishing fountains over the years would not add up to much, it was still a waste. I could have saved that money, or spent it on something I enjoyed instead of throwing it away. When I spent money on wishes, not only did I lose money, but I was disappointed every single time my wish did not come true. Instead of my optimism making me happier, it ended up upsetting me. The money I could have used to make myself or other people happy was wasted in a childish attempt to fulfill my dreams.
This dumb action reveals my past naive innocence. Not just mine, but every child who has ever made a wish and expected it to come true without any effort. In reality, you have to work to make your dreams come true. If I had wanted some ice cream, instead of throwing coins into a wishing fountain, I could have bought myself some, or asked my parents. If I wanted to become a millionaire, wishing for it would not help. I would have needed to work for it. I now understand that in order for your wishes to come true, you need to set goals and put time and effort towards achieving them. Dreams do not come true just because you have wished them into reality.
This is a lesson that many people, even adults, still need to learn. Many people still believe that if they are lucky, good things will happen to them, no effort required. This optimism leads to serious problems for them, problems that are much more serious than wasting a few coins on a wish. They believe that they can become rich and successful without putting in any of the work or effort. Lottery tickets are the adult equivalent of a wishing well, except people often spend hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets, not a few cents, just for the chance to be rich. Over time, this can end up being a large chunk of their money that they are wasting on the slight chance of winning. Believing that dreams will come true also harms your work ethic because you will not work as hard if you think that good things will happen to you regardless of your effort. Once you realize that dreams only come true for those who work towards them, you will be more motivated to put in the necessary effort to achieve your goals.
Understanding that actualizing dreams requires effort has allowed me to improve my own life. I know that in order to live the life that I want to live, I have to work for it. I can’t just do whatever I want and hope for the best, I have to set goals and work to achieve them. If I want to have a lot of money when I’m older, I have to get good grades in school so that I can get a well-paying job, and then I will need to handle my finances responsibly. Making your dreams a reality does not happen instantly, it takes time and continuous effort. It is good that I have come to this realisation so early in my life, because it allows me to set myself up for success.
I still occasionally throw money in wishing fountains, but simply for the nostalgia of the action, not because I believe that it will make my wishes come true. I no longer have the mentality that good things will happen to me because I want them to, I understand the truth now.
Disney lied to us all, dreams don’t come true just because you wished on a star or asked your fairy godmother. Dreams come true because of hard work and determination. Magic has nothing to do with it.