[Photograph by: James Sowka]
When I was a child, I remember feeling captured by the conversations of the adults. As a child of an immigrant family in the United States, one of the main conversation themes was the American Dream.
These adults would narrate long, mystical tales about the reasons why they came to the United States. Sometimes they complained about the hardships of not being in their native country. Sometimes they expressed nostalgia for having abandoned their lifestyle. Sometimes they conveyed guilt for having surrendered their heritage.
But, in these conversations the aspiration to reach the American Dream always outweighed any hardships, nostalgia, or guilt.
When I listened to these adults, I felt melancholic about their past sacrifices to reach the American Dream, but I also felt privileged as I had an effortless avenue to it. I did not even know what the American Dream meant.
I questioned myself, I questioned others. But, all the answers failed to fulfill my intrigue.
And now, I am an adult. I am an adult who still does not know what the American Dream means. I cannot fully understand the grasp of the concept as I contemplated in the conversations I heard as a child.
The more I reflected, the more I comprehended that I would never be able to sympathize with the concept of the American Dream
Because I am part of the Millennial Generation.
I am not alone. Hundreds of millennials perceive the American Dream as an ancient, fabricated concept.
Because we are the generation that faced the death of the American Dream.
Our previous generation survived the decline of the American Dream. But, are we going to survive the death of the American Dream?
I am not sure.
The Millennial Generation is wicked by materialistic consumption.
We are addicted to waste. We are consumed by our narcissistic personalities. We are obsessed with a synthetic reality.
And, even though we are partially liable and we should take responsibility for it, this is not all our fault.
Previous generations caused the emerge of the drastic drift. Previous generations persuaded us to believe that education is not a right, but a privileged. Previous generations conditioned us to presume that good employment required a Bachelor's degree.
We were drifted away from our own American Dream.
Yet, I continue feeling the thirst to understand the roots of the American Dream.
In literature, the American Dream is a notion born in the United States Declaration of Independence, where the principles of freedom and equality were established, and were meant to be available to all. Steadily, the notion became a nationalist concept that fed the ego of the American working class. Until recent years, when the greed of corporate America took over and prompted the elimination of the middle class.
For millennials, the American Dream only exists in our childhood memories. Meanwhile, we witness how the middle class sinks, as we drown inside the cycle of debt. We are driven to the false idea that we can purchase happiness with a credit card, when we are just enslaving ourselves into a monthly payment. Still, with a false sense that we are free, that we are equal.
We are not.
We are not free and we are not equal because we are required to conform to the standards imposed by our previous generations. Our autonomy is constrained for the benefit of corporate America, while the gap between the social classes continues to expand.
We feel valueless and powerless for not having a say in our lives, but some of us do not realize it.
College education is financially unreachable and the few of us who were granted the chance to attend college, graduated with a heavy baggage on our backs: student loans. Good employment opportunities are scarce and we find ourselves bouncing from unpaid internships to low paid jobs.
We are not given the opportunity to even start building the path to pursue our own American Dream.
But, do we have the power to change this?
We can be the commanders of our own lives.
We can control our freedom and pursue our own definition of the American Dream.
We are valuable and we do have a voice because this is our time, this is our turn, this is our generation.
We have the ability to reform the standards inherited from our previous generations.
Together, we are capable to redefine history and make college education a right available to all. Likewise, as the new labor force, we have the capacity to redesign the current economic system and secure good employment opportunities for all.
The Millennial Generation can revive the original notion of the American Dream, because we are thriving for a chance to have freedom and equality for all.