The American Dream

2015-04-01 15.18.01-5As part of my scheme to make my thirty-second year a year full of awesome, I’ve decided to go back to school. I have big educational plans, and until yesterday, they included starting work on a paralegal degree in January (that plan has now been pushed back to…well, I’m not sure to when yet, but sometime in the future). One of the scholarships I was going to apply for involved writing an essay about the American Dream and, since I won’t be applying for that scholarship now that I won’t be attending that particular school, I decided to share it here.

It’s probably not my best work, but it’s been a long time since I’ve written a scholarship essay. My essay skills are a bit rusty, and this was good practice. 🙂

American Dream, (n): 1. The ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American; 2. A life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the U.S.

When I think of the American Dream, I think of the millions of immigrants who’ve come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families. I was born an American citizen, but my great-great-great-grandparents were not. They were born in Germany and, like so many of their countrymen, they headed west in search of more than what they left behind.

More. That single word contains so much of what it means to be an American, doesn’t it? More wealth, more freedom, more choice, more time.

But more is an illusion, and in some ways I think, so is the American Dream. My dream is to truly have it all – the happy family, the dream job, the wall full of degrees, the new car in the garage, and the vacation home in the sticks. But even if I burn the candle at both ends and put myself in debt up to my eyeballs, I probably still won’t be able to tick every one of those items off my list. And even if I could, I’d probably be too exhausted to enjoy them.

Or maybe…maybe it is possible, just not the way I thought, not all at once.

I have a wonderful family. That’s one item. I am working hard to obtain the education I need to make the dream job and the wall full of degrees a reality instead of merely a possibility. That’s two items. As for the new car in the garage and the vacation home in the sticks? Well, I have a home in the sticks, but I suppose the new car will have to wait. 🙂

Being happy with what one has, and avoiding the siren song of more, is a sure recipe for contentment. Being happy with what one has is hard, though, and avoiding the song of more is harder still. But Americans are nothing if not tenacious, and I am more tenacious than most.

And sometimes, less is more.

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “The American Dream

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I always say that I planned and God laughed because absolutely nothing has worked out the way I planned it way back when. But I still have my dreams, and I like to think they’re worth holding onto. 🙂

      Besides, things have actually worked out pretty well for me, despite all God’s laughing. 🙂


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I’m not sure I agree with that. I think that, for some people, rich is part of the American Dream. Certainly even the poorest Americans look very wealthy indeed when viewed by someone from a third-world country. That said, you’re certainly correct that the richest people are those who are happy with what they’ve got.

      Riches don’t mean a thing if you don’t have someone to share them with. 🙂


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