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Our Tattered American Dream 

PUBLISHED July 10, 2013

I sat with a friend of mine tonight. He, dressed to the nine. Me, two days between myself and my last shower. The conversation came round to a familiar sphere–the early life crisis.

Knowing something is coming and then realizing you’re in the middle of it doesn’t make it all together any less of a mind fuck to deal with. My friends and I are all aboard the same boat. We had such solid visions of our bright, blissful futures. Graduation played out so seamlessly on our Instagram feeds. And yet here we are. Lost.

But unlike generations before us, we are without a road map. The world fell through on its promise to us. Do well in school, go to a good college, work hard, get a job, make money, be happy. But the recession happened, and the financial collapse happened, and the unemployment rate skyrocketed, and we were told we’d be lucky to wash cars or pump gas or wait tables. We held up our end of the bargain and are no longer willing to play by the rules.

I have been listening–to the endless career advice, and guest lectures, and life-tips…I have been paying attention. So when time and time again someone tells me… do what you love and it won’t feel like work or don’t spend the best years of your life stressing or go for your passion, you’ll regret it later if you don’t…I make a note of it, fold it into an itty-bitty square, and squeeze it into my brain tissue.

“I can’t work a full time job,” he says. “I’ll go crazy.”

I feel the same way. The thought of signing over a year of my life to work for someone else’s corporation, living off ramen noodles to raise someone else’s bottom line, getting wrinkles from all the stress just so someone else can sleep better at night, it all terrifies me to my core.

We don’t want your tattered American dream. It means nothing to us now. You’ve had your chance to prove us wrong. You’ve had your chance to win us back. But, like a breakup, we are moving on.

It’s not you, it’s me.

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