The Real American Dream

I recently visited The States to see my baby brother and sister graduate from high school. No, they aren’t twins, so that’s out of the way. My brother is going on to run track at Bethany College in Kansas majoring in who knows what. My sister, who graduated as class president and valedictorian, is going to College of the Ozarks “down south” to be a biology teacher…honorable, but ambitious? Eh. Then again, who am I to decide if a dream is too big or too small? Am I following any of my “dreams?” Are you?

We weren't sure if this day would happen, so...
We weren’t sure if this day would happen…

What happened to us, those who gave away the hopes of dreams and aspirations to blend into adulthood? As children we are encouraged to chase after them, to achieve the highest and go the distance to be all that we wanted to be. Younger me had so many dreams, and she chased every one of them. For that, I am not great at any one thing but extremely mediocre at a multitude of things. I used to have a passion for singing and acting and playing music. I would write just to write and envision my life under a spotlight, but now I am sitting in a big house with lots of things I never would have imagined caring about. I feel like Faith Hill dreaming about washing machines (please get the reference or get out); sixteen-year-old me had no idea that a buffet was a piece of furniture and not just a poorly prepared Ryan’s dinner. However, she could definitely tell you every show playing on broadway that season. (The Little Mermaid, Sunday in the Park With George, A Catered Affair, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, November, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Top Girls, The Country Girl.) You could say that I’ve grown up, realized more structured priorities. I say I’ve lost a chunk of my soul.

Come on, don't act like you did't once want to be a singer, too.
Come on, don’t act like you did’t once want to be a singer, too.

Americans are unhappy. We work all day and get home and sit, either feeling guilty for sitting or entitled to it. We work hard to make ends meet, and when we can’t make it happen we blame our government, our circumstances, or our peers for our shortcomings. We go to our schools to learn the basics and then if we have the money (or the fake money we call student loans) we further our education to learn a trade. We tend to base that trade not on something we love or feel passionately about but on what will generate a job that brings in the most cash flow. Sure, there are the exceptions. I’m sure all of the students in nursing school legitimately want to help people and aren’t the least bit comforted that it’s one of the highest paid professions in the nation at the moment.

Ever heard of "Into the Woods?" Yeah. We made it cool before Anna Kednrick did.
Ever heard of “Into the Woods?” Yeah. We made it cool before Anna Kednrick did.

No one does what they do because they love it anymore. I went to school to study music because I loved to sing and be on a stage and to pour my emotions into a piece of art and have people be affected by it just the same as me. Unfortunately there is no rent money in soul pouring. So that’s that. Now I’m struggling to find myself again outside of the things that I enjoy because there’s nothing tangible about what I currently want to do. So, what do we tell the future generation about their dreams when we have lost all of ours? How will I face my hypothetical children when they tell me they aspire to be astronauts when I am screaming on the inside, “The percentage of this actually happening is little to none because NASA loses its funding every other day! Get a realistic dream kid, be a dental hygienist!” Are the realities of life the reason we move on from silly things such as this, or are we just too afraid of living uncomfortably in order to chase after something that would actually leave us feeling more fulfilled? Money doesn’t buy happiness, but is money worth more than happiness?

Wine of the evening–Lodola Nuova Rossa di Montepulciano

Rachael Clemons
Rachael Clemons