Updated: Apr 24
I have a theory that no one, no matter how happy they are, is fully happy with themselves. Movie characters, book characters, and foreign fantasy worlds, all serve as some sort of solace; an ideal. We want to see ourselves fighting monsters, being a beautiful princess in a castle, shooting lasers, committing crimes, whatever the case may be – there’s always a fictional character or a character we create that we wish we could be.
I recently started playing Dungeons and Dragons, and upon creating a 7-foot-tall emo elf lady who gives me gender envy I began to wonder…would I really want to be her? If given the chance, would I choose to live as this superhuman creature? Probably yes. And because the world revolves around me, I know that I can’t be the only person that feels this way. So I sent out a survey to find out more about how others wish they could see themselves, asking people to describe their dream identity and to answer a few random questions to see if I could find any similarities between grade levels, favorite colors, etc. So, without further ado, the first response I received:
Response 1: Anabella, 15 (she/her)
To start, we have a fellow member of journalism, Anabella. Currently a freshman, she would like to be a teacher when she grows up and enjoys English, drawing, singing, and dancing. Her favorite media genres are horror and comedy, and her favorite color is yellow. We love Anabella.
When asked to describe her dream self, she wrote, “I want to be Batman.” Attached is a visual aid she has provided to help us better understand the character Anabella sees herself as in an ideal world.
In her closing remarks, she said, very simply, very poetically: “I am vengeance.”
Response 2: Anonymous, 15 (he/him)
For my first and only anonymous response, a sophomore whose favorite color is black and whose favorite genre is comedy, presents a fictional character-inspired alter ego. When he grows up, he wants to be an actor, comedian, and/or late-night show host “(but actually funny).”
His dream self is, quite simply, “literally Ramona Flowers but a guy and less problematic.” In terms of physical appearance, he described this ideal (unproblematic) guy as a “manic pixie dream boy with keys to subspace.” The image this elicits is too powerful for any of us, truly. Jasper Mann, a fellow journalism member, practically begged to draw him. So, attached is the result.
Response 3: Ellie, 16 (they/she)
In 11th grade, Ellie’s favorite color is light purple and their favorite subject is theatre. They enjoy “baking and random craft hyper fixations,” and want to be a child psychologist or psychiatrist as an adult. She enjoys mysteries and dramas.
Ellie’s dream self is a “little gay cottage core lesbian” whose only responsibility is to have a beautiful time in a field of flowers outside her cottage in nature, baking and creating crafts and petting their calico cat with their person.
I did the best I could to create an interpretation of Ellie’s dream self, though it was difficult to do them justice because of how cool they are.
Response 4: Flora, 14 (they/them)
Flora is our second ninth grader whose favorite color is yellow. Their favorite genre is dystopian and they enjoy multiple forms of art. They want to be a therapist when they’re older. (Can we be best friends please?)
Their dream self is someone with the body of a tall skinny boy with effortlessly messy hair “who sticks to projects and finishes books.” This one speaks to me. I would also love to be Flora’s dream self. This dream self would be super strong, too, and achieve all of Flora’s rock climbing goals.
My attempt at drawing this character (forgive me, I know I’ll never be able to capture the true essence).
Response 5: Arlon, 18 (he/him)
Arlon is a senior and a man of many favorite colors; he writes: “blues, browns, reds, oranges, yellows.” Another theatre lover, Arlon enjoys the sci-fi genre above all. His favorite activities are playing video games, spending time with his friends, and “vibing in [his] own spaces.”
In terms of a career, he would like to be a voice actor if possible, and if not, follow in his father’s footsteps as a clinical laboratory scientist. Arlon is so cool.
Arlon describes his dream self as follows: “A headmaster with a jet alternate mode from transformers so that [he] can still vibe with human-size people, or even a motorcycle alternate mode so that [he] doesn't have to be headmaster.” For my readers who are in the dark, Arlon has provided a few reference photos for this dream self:
Response 6: Vivienne, 16 (she/her)
Vivienne, a 10th grader, enjoys comedy stories, adventure stories, and “those depressing movies about the sweet couple that has a depressing, tear-jerking breakup.” Her favorite subject is drawing and/or painting. She has hopes of pursuing film directing or painting as a profession.
She enjoys watching TV, painting, and working out (with a story around it). I wish I had Vivienne’s work ethic. Furthermore, she writes and listens to music; “I really just like to do anything and everything that fulfills me creatively.” Vivienne’s creativity as well as the fact that she used to play DnD clearly pays off in her amazing description of her dream self: a leader of a band of outlaws in an alternate wild west universe who rides on super awesome space horses.
What’s more, Vivienne, alongside her band of outlaws, hunts down and kills evil robots (a service to the general public), all the while maintaining an Indiana Jones-type charisma. This band of outlaws would fight evil robots while working with a crime syndicate run by giants, who would help by scouting and assisting with equipment. In this fantasy world, (that I hope she turns into a novel so I can read it), Vivienne writes, “there would be this whole Blade Runner moment where I have to go out on my own on a mission and when I return I have this new perspective on life and feel the need to make some big sweeping changes. Then, I would have this big adventure and it would be sick.”
And now, what we’ve all been waiting for: Vivienne has supplied us with a gorgeous artwork illustrating not only her robot-killing badass character but the wild west she lives in.
Response 7: Jasper, 16 (he/him)
Jasper, also in journalism, is a multifaceted artist. He enjoys fantasy, cheesy romance, and comics, and his favorite colors are blue and green. His favorite subject is “art in general,” and his hobbies are reading, drawing, hiking, and working out (“plus [he’s] really into fashion”).
He has hopes of pursuing directing, stage managing, commercial artistry (“comics? animation?”), or photography (“high fashion?”) as a career. His dream self is a pirate who captains his ship (The Blue Bird). He can telepathically communicate with sea creatures, which he uses to protect them from “the wrath of other humans.” He has a best friend, a giant blue-scaled creature named Steven, “who protects me from all harm and lets me ride on her back.” Throughout his time as a pirate, he explores a universe filled with alternate dimensions and different biomes with his group of sea creature friends and his crew. I’m gonna ask if I can also be on the ship.
Jasper has drawn this empathetic pirate captain for us.
Although this will likely be an inadequate conclusion, because the amount of responses here is nothing to be able to notice very many trends, there is one main takeaway: everyone is different. Of course, this goes without saying, but the fact that there were no clear links between people and the archetypes of characters they created, I think it is worth noting.
Everyone has their own dream self, and everyone’s dream self is different, with seemingly no correlation between this ideal character and one’s traits. What truly inspires it is something that cannot be captured through answers to a survey - it matches only the person themself. Their character, their personality, what makes them uniquely them. If you knew any of these people, and read their responses, you’d say, “oh, yeah, that definitely makes sense,” without fully knowing why. And that’s okay.
Nobody needs to be fully understood, and no one should be fully understood. These dream selves are only miniature representations of who we are.