When we were kids, our parents, favorite TV shows and movies were unrelenting with their positive reaffirmations of the world being our oyster, our dreams being pretty much within our reach and the fact that we can be whomever we choose to be on this shimmering bauble in the dark of space.
When I was younger I wanted to be a frog, later shifting my adoration to James Bond. Both, erm, relatively attainable goals. I could buy a tux, die it green and jump around a lot whilst waving a fake Walther PPK. Life goal achievement unlocked!
But what about those who dreamt bigger dreams? Dreams of becoming the world's greatest heroes or villains, straight from the pages of iconic comic books? Those who spent thousands of dollars and endured hours of strenuous plastic surgery to become living embodiments of their beloved pop culture phenom?
Kinda like this, but with less Super Serum...
Join me as I take a look at a few of the bravest and most dedicated comicbook fans around.
1. Henry Damon
From: Caracas, Venezuela
Favorite Character: Red Skull
"He has loved comic books since he was a kid and always dreamed of being Red Skull, but never got round to doing it," said a friend of Damon, the 37-year-old family man, who earlier this year finally achieved his dream of becoming one of Captain America's most nefarious nemeses.
The transformation required extensive psychological and physical examinations, before Damon's nostrils were removed, his eyes tattooed, his skin dyed red and silicon implants were fitted into his cheeks, chin and cheekbones in order to become the one of the many heads of HYDRA. Hats off to you sir!
2. Romario dos Santos Alves
From: Caldas Novas, Brazil
Favorite Character: The Hulk
Chasing your dreams can sometimes become a risky business as the Brazilian bodybuilder was to learn. In order to achieve his goal of resembling Bruce Banner's angsty alter ego, Alves injected synthol, a mixture of oil, alcohol and lidocaine, in an attempt to attain his hulking biceps.
Sometimes kids will come up to me and say that I look like the Incredible Hulk and hug me and have their photo taken with me. I really like that as I modeled my body on the Incredible Hulk
The plan worked! The synthetic concoction gifted Alves with 25inch biceps, he had succeeded with his dream. But his once innocent endeavors later became a dangerous addiction, as Alves' muscles began to harden.
I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms. They said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock. It was either that or cut all of my muscles out.
Luckily, after a CAT scan, Alves' doctors decided against amputating both of his arms. Instead they managed to remove the hardened muscle, without ruining his passion for bodybuilding.
3. Herbert Chavez
From: Calamba City, Philippines
Favorite Character: Superman
It's not difficult to understand why people worship Superman. He is the ideal of honor and righteousness. Herbert Chavez, possibly the world's greatest Superman fan, spent 300,000 pesos (just over $6000) to transform himself into the Filipino Man of Steel.
I feel like a Superhero whenever I pull on the costume, but my mission is not to save the world but to help in my own small way and bring a smile to the faces of local children.
It took 19 surgeries, including jaw realignment, skin whitening, lip liposuction, and nasal surgery, amongst others - spread across a total of 16 years to perfect his look. But the humble dressmaker's transformational journey is far from over. He has plans to increase his height, make his butt a bit tighter and render his abdomen a little more ripped.
When my body says it can not endure it anymore or when my doctor says that my body can not handle it because of age, then I will stop.
Regardless of how people's opinions may differ on these men's physical augmentations, the fact remains that they saw a way to achieve a dream and they did it, hopefully without bringing pain to anyone.
Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, and... have possibly saved a fair bit of money. So get out there and start making your dreams come true! And, stay within the realms of the law and personal safety, yeah?
I'm currently mining the web for green tuxedos...