Growing up as kids, then teenagers, the American Dream was being a doctor, police officer, a famous star, a lawyer, a veterinarian, etc. all of which are careers that make good money ; enough to buy a home, travel, live in comfort, and give their kids what you didn‘t have growing up. As kids, the reality of what being grown means, the responsibility of bills, of the expense of school, student loans that will quickly add up to over six figures, the struggle of working to pay the bills while you go to school to obtain a degree. If you have to put yourself through school, or a family is added then you’re working to provide a home first, then any extra time you can make for your ‘American Dream’ getting through in 4 years becomes 6 to 8, or sometimes never because LIFE gets in the way of that dream.
For an associate of mine, back in high school (in the 1980s), she had big dreams of going to beauty college, which back then didn’t require the expense and time it does today, to be her job while she put herself through college to be a freelance writer and photographer. She wanted to travel the world, become a famous writer who had her work published in famous magazines like Time Magazine. Her single parent couldn’t afford to help her pay for school so if she was going to live her American Dream, she would have to do it on her own. The beauty college would be something she could do anywhere that would give her steady income until she make a strong, successful reputation for herself as a freelance writer and photographer. She became pregnant her senior year of high school and was forced to give up her American Dream, to raise her child, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. This story is a familiar one for thousands of people who start with one dream, but sometimes life has other plans for us, and our dreams shift and change, often times pushed away into a small corner of the mind to be brought out only during times of reminiscence that comes out in a story of ‘should’ve, would’ve, could’ve’ later in life.
The days of going to school, being a good student, getting a good enough GPA to get accepted into a good 4 year university, going to graduate school and obtaining a Bachelors or Masters degree have been forced to make way for changing times, technology, economy and specialty schools that don’t fit into the traditional 4 year university, online courses that allow those who can’t make it into a class room during regular daytime hours to still continue their education. For those people who are now receiving Medicare or have retired from an occupation that is completely opposite from what their childhood American Dream was, the thought of going back to school to chase that age old dream is daunting. But for the X and Y generations, the dreams they once had, that had to be pushed aside to handle responsibilities, are still obtainable and many are going after their dreams, twenty years later, so they won’t have to tell a story of ‘should’ve, would’ve, could’ve’. They and the upcoming generations will have a more opportunity to say “I AM LIVING MY AMERICAN DREAM.”