Why the (New) American Dream Is Crap (to me)

“So live that your memories will be part of your happiness” – Anonymous

American Dream crap

This crappy American Dream got me frustrated… (Photo: Kamila Figler)

This American Dream? Please spare me.

I was going to write about something else today, but after having a rather-frustrating conversation with a colleague, I couldn’t help myself but yell within, repeatedly: “The American Dream is such CRAP nowadays!! It’s a TRAP!!” In my eyes, it is such a dangerous disease, even a mind-game trapping so many talented, ambitious, dream-filled young people that it seriously makes me want to cry. And before you yell at me how many opportunities and blah blah blah are found in the USA, please hear me out.

I was telling “him” (that’s how I’ll nickname my colleague) about my travel sites and how much I miss traveling. He complained how he wishes to travel so much, but that he doesn’t have the money to do so.

I then went on my passionate speech about how we can travel extensively with little money.

I even took the liberty to quantify, dividing costs of traveling for a year vs cost of living in the U.S. for a year and how the former can be much more economical. “He,” however, kept interrupting me, repeatedly, with the same old “but you really need money, which I don’t have” complaint over, and over, and over again…to the point that, after I quantified how travel can be so affordable (Couchsurfing, $5 hostels, 50-cent meals, working online or even abroad, etc.), he even got a little defensive about it! And of course, he repeated the little complaint one more time

I’ve had it. I went on a quasi-ranty harangue myself, expressing how sad it is that America has jaded young people like him. It’s like the old “everything is possible” American Dream mantra has been substituted by an “everything is possible, but with money” motto. It seems like the only “lesson” the American Dream is currently teaching the youth (or everyone else for that matter) is that you simply must get, you must have. That it is all about making the money, the “stability” in order to turn your dreams into reality. That a stable job is the only way to go about it, and if you complain and try to fight the system or simply have a different way to go about things, well,

You have failed.

I know, you might argue that’s not everyone and/or even America’s fault. I must also note that I do understand that the “stable life,” the cubicle, the little picket fence and house are the actual dreams of many and they are happy going about it the “standard” way. But what I wish to point out is how some of those people, how America nowadays, is pointing fingers and calling losers/failures those who do not want it that way.

I came to this land for “the American Dream” and all it is doing now is telling me that I’m doing it wrong, that I can’t do this or that because of this thing or the other. That because I don’t have this amount of money, because I don’t own this other thing, I am wrong. Sadly, this is an epidemic that has spread so wildly throughout generations. And you know what?

I’m freakin’ tired of it.

I’m tired of people telling me (us!) I can’t be a digital nomad, that I’ll be a living a “sub-par life” because I’m not “stable” enough (or at all). Well guess what? I look around me here in America and I see thousands of professionals with 20+ years of solid, “stable” experience recently laid off without notice, without a reason. I see families that earned six figures last year, making less than half of that this year. I see their “stability” imploding without a timer, without a warning, in front of them. Is this the American Dream?!

What am I trying to say with this? Nothing is “stable” in this life! It is all about choices, chances we take and those taken away from us. It is all about risks. Mostly, though, it is what we make of it. And by that I mean it is what you do outside your comfort zone. It is what you try despite what “the system” told you, what would make you “look like a loser” or “a failure.”

And so I told my colleague: “You know what? It is sad that corporate America has trapped you and make you think that way. As for me? I’m grabbing the world, and life, by the cojones. And I’ll be winning

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine” ~Caskie Stinnet

Ok, end of rant 😀 What do you think about the new American Dream?

19 thoughts on “Why the (New) American Dream Is Crap (to me)

  1. I think many Americans do not have the inspiration to travel and explore the world, even if it’s something that might be a great life experience for them. Many of us (including myself) are raised and cultured under the American tradition that career building and financial wealth are important, and therefore we have the mentality while we’re young that we should chase after those first. Even the brightest of us Americans fall victim to this mentality because many of us are just not exposed to the idea of exploring the world while still young. From my personal experience, I have been inspired later in life. Although it’s still possible, it can be difficult later, especially when you have more to be responsible for (i.e. owning property, marriage, children, etc.). I’m glad to see that more and more young Americans are being exposed to travel and exploration than before.

  2. I love my American Dream. My American Dream is composed of my husband (family)+ my friends+ a job that I am passionate about+ involvement in a mission+ owning my home/belongings (not living in absurd debt!), etc… but I have not had to pass down on my dreams to achieve that. I have just rearranged them so I can do it wisely. I have been able to save money so that I can have it! Wanted a Masters’ degrees? Got it! Just worked while doing it so I graduated debt free. Everyone has up’s and down’s whether you are making six figures or you are making two. I think in reality is that people are not willing to pace themselves in when to receive gratification nor be realistic about what their life will look like in order to reach those things. If you want to have a career in a 8am-5pm job and be a parent, you will probably need to travel in the weekends/use longer vacations or work remotely but that does not make you worse off than the opposite. It is not impossible but you need to be organized. Sadly, I think it is actually the government the one that is killing the American Dream….by taking it from the hard workers to hand it to leeches.

    • And to add….people have forgotten that the true American Dream is the ability to pursue your happiness; whatever it looks like!

      • TOUCHÉ! Thus why I described ‘keeping up with the Jonases’ as the “New American Dream.”

        I must add, though: the government and corporations in the United States are making it more and more difficult for the common folk to pursue his/her happiness EVEN through hard work. The middle class is disappearing, we are entering dangerous territory…

    • many people don’t follow their dreams, but the dreams of others, what others expect of them, because of the whole “keeping up with the Jonases” mantra that’s become the new American Dream — for most, not ALL! I never said that the typical picket fence, family, stability is BAD–it certainly works for some!

      Rather, what I’m saying is how I have seen WAY TOO MANY young people like us trying to follow the traditional American Dream, becoming miserable individuals in the process. Meaning, they are NOT following their own dreams! Like my colleague, who “wants to travel” and whatnot, but would not hear me out when I suggested some unconventional ways to achieve his “dream.” But like another commenter said, perhaps that’s what he thinks is his dream, when it really isn’t. But he was also miserable at work, so…! I guess he still has to find himself…

      Congratulations on achieving your American Dream — too many try to live the life others expect them to live, choosing not to go down the arduous path of following your own heart xoxo

  3. That is a rant I totally agree with. Welcome to the first 23 years of my life!! I love the US and I’m very proud to be from there, but I think our values are a bit mixed up. Most people are very consumed with stability and success. And I just think, “What’s the point?” Who are they trying to prove themselves too. Oh you have a job with a contract, a house with a white picket fence, a car with heated seats and 1.5 children-what does it all matter if you’re not happy. Some people are happy with that and I totally support that. But the people like your colleague who go on about how they want to travel, but don’t have the money-they need a serious reality check.

    I felt extremely trapped by the type of success that is common at home (Job/Money/Things). All I wanted from a very young age was to travel and what was in the way was everyone’s idea of success for me. I thought I had to have those things to do anything. When I figured out that I didn’t-it was very liberating. I only wish I could get that through to people at home. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Some people don’t like travel. They say they do, but they rather stay close to home. I did not understand it before (when I went on my just-pack-up-and-leave journey lasting multiple years to the US from Holland).
    People would say they want to do something like that, but never did. When you try to talk about it, they will find excuse after excuse. They just want to say they like to travel, but they don’t want to go, really.
    Now I just learned to accept not everybody is the same (which is good). Some dream a little, some a lot, some just go. As long as I do what I like, … 🙂

  5. I agree with Toni – in a practical sense, Americans usually only have 2 weeks off a year so they don’t tend to dream about traveling abroad. I do think the education system there has something to answer for. I spent last year traveling the world and met very few Americans and while in the USA, few Americans knew anything about my home country Australia. This mentality is increasing though in Australia as well. I think there is the perception that travel is something you ‘get out of your system’ at a young age and then get a ‘real’ job. My husband and I got rather perplexed responses to our adventures last year rather than support, I guess because we are older and not straight out of high school. I’ve noticed that people don’t really want to think about their lives, so if you make plans to travel or not buy a house or have children, it’s confronting as people want you to fit into the mold society has cut out for you.

  6. I guess what’s right for you is depend on personal choices, I don’t care if people like their own life in a cubicle, I don’t force them just that’s not the one for me. And they shouldn’t blame me for it either.
    Good luck with your ‘hard shaking’ your bucket. 🙂 I’m rooting for you sister!!

  7. I have to agree with you on this one hun and sadly, I think this is why almost half of the US don’t own passports….because they’ve been told to chase money instead of happiness. Everyone wants the white picket fence but travellers want the perpetual happiness of being on the road. The US is taught to accept their 2 week vacation time and it’s one of the main reasons that they travel ‘in house’ rather than internationally – so sad. Great post sweet =)

    • I agree Toni. Many Americans living this lie…I wonder how many would change their lifestyle if they knew what their time is being wasted on

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