Here’s how it goes in America. Imagine you are 25 years old and living in the U.S. You went to college right out of high school. You couldn’t afford to attend college but then again, who could? You received some money from your parents, worked a little (or a lot) while in school but mostly paid for college with loans. Four to six years’ worth of loans. On average, you’ll be buried beneath $20,000 dollars worth of debt the day you graduate from college. Congratulations. That’s 50% more debt than you would have graduated with just 10 years ago (adjustments for inflation accounted for).
Take this same principle of going into massive debt just to try and get an education and apply it to everything that is the “American Dream”. You want a house? Car of your own? Good job? Marriage and a family? Good luck. The American dream is dying one defaulted home loan at a time.
And here’s where it gets tough. Try talking to your parents about how hard it is to get by in America and they are likely to scoff. Things were tough when they were your age, that’s what they’re sure to say. And while your parents may have had it rough, they never had it this bad.
Ok, so enough with all of the numbers and percentages. I hate numbers. Numbers have a way of dehumanizing the situation.
This is not meant to be a “woe is us” post. Societies rise and fall (as do the governments that rule over them). This reality is as much a part of history as it is a part of our daily lives. To hear our parents tell of what it was like growing up in America is the same as to hear our grandparents tell of what it was like growing up during the Great Depression. It’s history and there is much to be learned from it. But it’s important to realize and keep in mind that it is History with a capitol H. Life will not (and cannot) happen exactly the same way twice. The way your parents lived is not the way you will live; no matter how much they think it should be so.
For me, the importance of what I do with the time I am given hinges less upon who’s expectations I am living up to and more upon what expectations I have for the time I am living in.
I am not my parents, nor my grandparents who came before them. And while their stories will surely live on within me, influencing the actions and decisions I make, my story will not be theirs, and theirs will not be mine.
Perhaps it’s time for a new dream.