Today I dug up a short paper written for an English class from when I was about 17 or 18. Nothing fancy – just one of those stream of consciousness papers based on a prompt. For this essay, the subject was defining the American Dream. I think in a lot of ways it highlights my idealism, but it’s nice to read that I felt hopeful and happy back then.
I don’t know that I would approach my definition in the same way, and that might be something I revisit later.
Chasing the Dream
I have heard the term “American Dream” a lot in my life, and I never thought much of it other than it being little more than a tired, old, cliché. When I was a child, I tended to relate it to the rags to riches stories of foreign immigrants you might see in movies. Now, though, I have a different idea of what the American Dream really is. I think of it as the opportunity to achieve happiness, regardless of circumstance. The right to pursue happiness is written right into our Declaration of Independence, one of the founding documents for our country. While happiness can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, I believe it encompasses all of the ideals that the term “American Dream” represent. I also believe that there are a few things that when achieved, help make people happier overall.
The first item on my list of things that can help a person in their pursuit of the American Dream is job satisfaction. Simply put, no one can really be happy with their lives overall if they hate getting up to go to work every day. Everyone has passions, talents, and interests. Where possible, it’s important that they try to find a way to make a living off them. While it may be impossible for everyone to find that perfect job, I don’t really think it’s a good idea for anyone to just settle.
Education follows job satisfaction because often times it can be what stands between a person and that dream job. While it can be costly to pursue higher education, there are many financial aid opportunities and scholarships available in the United States for those who want to continue their schooling. There are scholarships for everything, from academic prowess to height.
Financial stability can is another big hurdle on the path to anyone’s American Dream. You can’t be happy if you don’t know how you are going to pay next month’s rent or you’re worried about the electricity being shut off in January. Moreover, financial stress can leak into other parts of your life and harm personal relationships. People frustrated over money might lash out at others. I’m not saying a person must be wealthy to be happy, I just think that it’s best if they are secure in their finances.
The American Dream is not a one size fits all dream. Everyone interprets it differently. Personally, I feel I am living the American Dream every day. Not because I have achieved anything great. To be honest, I have not even achieved everything on my own list yet. I know I will though. I am working towards those goals, and already I am happy.