In Dream Chaser Interviews

Today I’m pleased to bring you an interview with dream chaser, Mitchell Scott Davis, who went from believing that success is reserved for other people to graduating early from an Ivy League grad school and pursuing the job of his dreams. Mitchell’s talking with us today about his fears, challenges, and vision for the future…

Q: Tell us about yourself. What’s your dream and how are you working towards it?
MSD: I am a recent Masters Degree graduate from Columbia University, a newlywed, and a lot closer to being 40 than to 30, when most people have these milestones already accomplished. In my past I have been the assistant editor to a corporate real estate trade magazine, fish monger, software developer, handyman, barista, bouncer, and middle school teacher. On good days, I feel a Renaissance man; other days a Jack-of-all-trades (master of none). Since I was a child, my goal was to learn everything there is to know in the world, so it doesn’t shock me that it has taken this long to settle down. However, as I’ve come down this path, more often than not, my choices were precipitated by a lack of self-confidence and fear of failure.

Neither of my parents went to college, and I was the first person in my family to get a Bachelors Degree. Education was always important to my parents, but I internalized many of their insecurities about formal learning environments. It took me six years to graduate; after four years I had one more class to take. Instead of finishing that up, I took two years off and reluctantly returned to fulfill the requirement. I still don’t know why that seemed so difficult for me, especially since I finished a two-year Masters program one semester early.

My dream is to save the world, one workplace at a time. That would be my superhero alter-ego’s mission statement of-sorts. Through all of my experiences I have seen the common threads of difficulty dealing with change and organizational cultures that look more like bad high school sitcom/dramas than a group of professional adults working towards a common goal. My degree in social-organizational psychology has given me the tools and vocabulary to achieve this goal, paired with professional development in group relations that I am continuing on my own. I started writing a blog, Vicissitude Scoop, about my dream job while I’m trying to manifest it, and I’m lucky enough that my wife is supportive through this process. It’s been less than two months since I’ve graduated but I’m starting to get disenchanted with the job search.

Q: Describe a gray time in your life. How did it stand between you and your dreams? How did you overcome it?
MSD: I’m actually right in the beginning, and hopefully the middle and end of a gray time as I answer this question. It’s hard to hold on to a dream in this economy. I have applied to so many jobs that I don’t want to do but know that I can do quite well. Some of them would be fun, interesting, even exciting. But not my dream job, or even a step towards that goal.

Ironically, it was easier to apply to an Ivy League graduate school after working blue-collar jobs for three years and believe I could make it in. I’m having a crisis of confidence – Does the job exist? Would the job want me? And if it did, would I be able to do it? – and there are no easy answers.

I don’t know how to overcome it but it’s a daily conversation I have with myself. I have come this far, through so much, worked so hard, and I need to be patient. When I was deciding to take this road, I had to believe in myself enough to start. “Put one foot in front of the other,” as the song from a Christmas cartoon echoes in my mind. It’s a battle of wills, and if I have learned anything from my time here on this earth it is that dreams are most often killed by the dreamer, not by the rest of the world.

Q: What fears have you faced as you chase your dreams?
MSD: I think for a long time I didn’t think I deserved to be successful, that it was something that happened to other people but not made for me. Even when I was elected “most likely to succeed” in high school, it didn’t matter. If I didn’t believe it myself it wasn’t important how many other people believed it for me. Though I don’t want to regret choices I’ve made, and value the work I’ve done, whether it’s working class or management jobs, I feel like I made some decisions that kept me down. If I didn’t need to use my formal education-brain, there wouldn’t be any risk if it wasn’t ‘big’ enough.

Q: What inspires you to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough?
MSD: I am lucky that I had the courage to fight for my own happiness: to find an exceptional life partner, embark on a new and challenging career, eat well and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and surround myself with people who are loving and supportive. I tell myself that I cannot, and must not, turn away from that goal. I know what I need to be happy. I deserve it and can make it happen. Most of all I have to remind myself to have gratitude for the things that I have and by taking stock in the joy and love all around me. I am nourished. Tired, but well-fed.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is struggling to move beyond the gray and follow a dream, what would it be?
MSD: There’s so much static out there, things that distract people from their ability to connect to others genuinely, much less themselves. The hardest part is finding space to be able to listen to yourself and act on what you know is true and right and make it real. Finding what you want to do takes the courage to put all of those other voices to rest: the doubt, the fear, all leading to easy assumptions that it’s a worthless task in one way or another, that the world doesn’t have space or time for your dreams. Nobody’s going to win the lottery; it takes hard work and sometimes more years than we’d like to give to the effort. But all we have is time, in the end. Happy people spread that joy around them, and your capacity to love and to be loved can only increase once that first step is taken. Listen to your heart, plan a path with your mind, and move forward with everything you’ve got.

Follow Mitchell’s journey on his blog, Vicissitude Scoop, at

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