According to Dictionary.com there are two basic definitions of the American Dream. The first is that "the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American." As a nation we continue to struggle with this one. The second definition: "a life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the U.S." is however still alive and well. Pursuing the American dream takes discipline a lot of side-stepping of common pitfalls. At times I ponder the ways that we, as a people could sustain a very satisfying life. I think very deeply, in fact. Of course, there's a lot of work to do in the the good ole' U.S.A. especially when it comes the interpretation of equality and the defining of the ideal of freedom for all Americans. However, when it comes to "material comfort" we have a consensus of agreement. Our nation has traditionally been a land that is in a constant state of flux and growth. Winning big and feelings of loss are part of our nation's fabric. These ups and downs are what makes American's flexible. The people are resilient, our government has a shakier history. The laws that discriminated against minorities and women in our history were often created by our federal and state governments to keep what they felt was the majority of Americans happy. They looked the other way while their local constituents (just south of the District) continued to suppress their fellow, free, American citizens right to pursue happiness and looked the other way when their rights of it's own people (whom they swore to protect) were violated openly and daily. The idea of the American Dream has largely remained unchanged but the obstacles (many mental-but mostly institutional) prevent many from realizing the dream. Opportunity in a place like Detroit, MI is waining while opportunity in a place like Austin, TX is flourishing. If I'm an unfortunate citizen of Detroit who, for whatever reason did not finish high school, my chances of seeing a glimpse American dream may seem slim to none.
I personally hate the over simplification of complex topics with generic suggestions because of the unknown challenges that many people may face. Beliefs and bad information are also barriers to self-realization. I’m going to offer about 5 (harsh) suggestions that I feel could be beneficial to many readers in the next few weeks. These could help facilitate the ideal life for you- whatever that may be. Try an experiment and ask a random successful (looking) stranger or a rich relative what they would do if they found themselves in your shoes today… and really listen. You might be surprised-or get your feelings hurt-or both. Take the following information and try to filter it through to your current life situation. Personally, I relocated (escaped) from a medium sized city in America's Rust Belt to the bustling South more than 20 years ago. Mostly to pursue an education, better weather, and opportunity, and my somewhat naive idea of the American dream. Often, when I return home, I notice that many of my old friends and associates are still waiting for their piece of the pie instead of making moves to go get their piece on their own. The bakery is closed. Maybe it's time to start looking somewhere else....
So, this week, I suggest that maybe you should consider..
That's right, move. Like out of state, move. This is a big country. It spans from one side of a large continent to the other. The United States is massive. It has in its possession: tropical islands, frozen tundra, deserts, rain forests, massive cities, mountains and beaches. Unless you are physically unable to or have some other legal obligation, there is no need to stay where things aren't working. It may Mother Universe's way of telling you to keep on pushin'. Humans have a tendency to stay in bad situations while waiting for them to get better, ask Kellyanne Conway. This sounds like an excuse. Is there at least dignity in suffering in silence? Naw dog. You need to move. If you decide to dump your town, do so today. Don't wait. Cuz if you don't, you will be reading this from the same spot on your couch today that you first read it on last year. Really.
Of course, prior to moving, you should have a plan. Now let's be real, sleeping on your cousin's couch in Atlanta -at first- is not necessarily a plan. Step one: Google job openings in Atlanta. Step two: click apply. Of course I'm being facetious, but seriously, before you commit to that leap research the cost of living. What's the living wage is in the city you've got your eye on. Google that too. Failure to do so may mean a daily grind of struggle plates with beanies and weenies on a styrofoam place with a side of Ramen noodles and a honey bun (sounds nasty). After determining this info, determine the cost of living by finding out the average rent, gas prices, the price beanies and weenies, and other pertinent expenses. What's the cost of moving, how safe are the neighborhoods, yada yada, you get the picture. Do all of this or you might end up in the hood. Just kidding (but seriously it could happen). Something that looks nice to your country butt in some big cities could be way worse than where you're coming from. Police departments provide this data on their websites, so don't get caught slippin'. Personally, I would visit to the city you a lot. Go to a few meet ups or events that invite conversation and ask some locals what they think about your choice of move. After you find a job or a way to support yourself and have calculated the living wage, you should save up 3 to 6 months of living expenses before moving. This is called an emergency fund. This is for just in case things don't pan out and you end up… you know… eating beanies and weenies in the hood, as you may recall, you can buy a ticket to take your butt back home or, preferably, find another gig. So as I stated, add your expenses up (rent and utilities, transportation, food, and other necessities) and multiply number that by 6. Take that money and put it into a savings account and don't ever touch it for anything except for an absolute freaking emergency.
On the positive side, a move may help you reset your mind. Ctrl+Alt+Del that joker. It may help you see yourself outside of your current situation. The stress of adapting to a new situation could (will more than likely) bring forth a new view of world. Hopefully, that will be a favorable view of your own future. Moving away from what is familiar will also help you look at the people that you currently associate with. Yeah, your dumbass coworker or loser second cousin. These people have never left and unfortunately may never build up the courage to disrupt a comfortable, mediocre existence. I know, ouch, sort of harsh. It’s not all their fault, it’s yours too. You’ve all conformed and fit into where you are. Leaving disrupts that conformity and shakes up that safeness. You know what else is can be comforting? Food. And what does “comfort food” get you? Yep, hemorrhoids and erectile dysfunction. Jinx! You owe me a Coke. Great minds think alike. Anyway, new scenery will trigger your creativity and put you back into discovery mode. It might make life interesting again. Who knows? Only really one way to find out.