Surviving the U.S. – “The American Dream”

The media seems to over fantasize the definition of “The American Dream” into glitz and glamour that doesn’t necessarily always play out to the reality that exists in the United States.  There seems to be this misconception that as soon as someone from a “3rd world country” hits the states, they’ll hit jackpot. Many don’t realize the reality is that poverty, prostitution, and slavery still exists in the United States.  Educated people sometimes fall downhill despite hard work. But the hard hard life publicized in “3rd world countries”  are things the media don’t often tell you that exists also in the U.S.  So is there such thing as freedom and the “The American Dream?”

My parents (before they met each other), extended family, and their friends escaped during a war.  Some made it big with hard work and maybe some with luck (being at the right place the right time), but many haven’t fully lived out “The American Dream” that they hoped for..

I was fortunate that my parents were the kind of parents who wanted their children to have a better life than they had during the war.  I admit I was a confused child that sometimes took life for granted, in the midst of adjusting to cultural differences growing up. Sometimes I forget to appreciate that I didn’t have to go through the same trauma they did.  They came here with nothing and built a life for themselves and my siblings and I.

Now my siblings and I are grown adults and family is or has reached retirement, I see that not all of us are living the “the American Dream.” With all the years of hard work, I imagine my parents vacationing and just relaxing by now, but they still worry about retirement and about us.  Don’t get me wrong, they are proud of our accomplishments, but we have been hit several times with challenges beyond our control.

But we shouldn’t compare the hardships my family went through and expect that we should be well better off, because the truth is, we all face different challenges that are real.  There are more adults today, even in their late 20s or 30s, still living with their parents because of inflation of housing, tax, and living expenses that make it hard to be on our own.  There are people without homes, kids who turn to prostitution, and involuntary slavery that exists in the U.S..  There are crises happening in the U.S. Look at   The media doesn’t seems to emphasize it so much happening in the U.S. but glorify epidemics in other countries. What’s happening outside the U.S. is real too, but I feel there is a somewhat patriotic desire to want to make the U.S. seem like we have it all together, that it is the land of the free and where all your dreams can come true. That’s normal, we that we don’t want to show the negativity that exists, however, hiding the problem (whether within the country or outside of it) doesn’t resolve any issues, it just prolongs and manifests more issues. There are people here who need help too, just like anywhere else.

Despite given access to basic needs like food, shelter, education, (including being put through college), “freedom” and everything that society has taught us to maintain, we are not immune from set backs, financial situations, and downfalls. I was given those privilege but it still has been a rocky road.   I have unexpectedly lost some full time jobs and am more confused than ever.  It would probably make more sense my circumstances were different; if I didn’t have access to resources that it would be harder.  There are many who didn’t have a good start like that, so that makes it even more devastating to have these privileges, but not being able to make good and live out that stage of “success” that I “should” be.

After all, others would say we “should” feel lucky and “should” live it out for the sake of those who can’t “easily” live the “The American Dream”.  But regardless of background, some of us truly run into obstacles beyond our control that set us back and also despite what media may portray, it is not that easy to live in the U.S.  I run into people who come to the U.S. dreaming of staying, with the misconception that all they need is a job or a good spouse and then they can have their kids here and everything’s good.  But there are “minimum” things like insurances we have to pay (that don’t exist in other countries), taxes (sales, property, income, etc), rent, bills, etc. All of those rack up to a lot of money and a little left for food and things we need to sustain. Minimum wage as a single person, won’t do.. a lot of people have to rely on spouse, family, if any or government assistance.

Some of us then often feel like failures, and feel hopeless.  I, like anyone else want to know that the rest of my life will be OK, that I have a purpose, and that I’m not just a floating space taking up oxygen, that I have a future to really contribute to the world.  I want to know that my efforts aren’t wasted. Sometimes it feels like there’s no point in going one direction if it’s going to end up in discontent or tragedy.  But I understand, despite the outcome, everything is a learning experience.

Fear has held me back on and off; more so now than before facing life’s circumstances.  I used to be fearless and “invincible.”  There has been so many times I felt like giving up.  The fighter in me says I must keep going.  Keep trying.  The worse part is not trying and not knowing what could be or the good that can come out of it.  My goals are different from what society and others may tell me to do, so my definition of “The American Dream” may be different from others.  I compromise and sacrifice in my own way in hopes for a better outcome.  Regardless of what it is, despite the amount of bad luck one has, I would tell anyone not to give up.  Success stories like Facebook, Plenty of Fish, celebs in the U.S. who make it big and use that to make a big difference in the world is proof that yes, “The American Dream” does exist.  With hard work I hope I can achieve that.  I’ll figure something out. I always do.

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