The American Dream is a Nightmare
Our bootstrap culture forgot to make the bootstraps affordable. Fortunately, my generation will soon be passing the reins on to a younger generation. So as a 72-year-old woman, if I were to give anybody under the age of 40 advice, it would be this:
Create something entirely different than what your parents wanted because most of what they had is gone.
Yeah, they saw to that before you had a chance to benefit from the previous generation’s windfall. Pensions, affordable housing, affordable education, unions, jobs that one could retire from, a living wage, marriages that lasted, even your inheritance is gone. They’ll act like you’re the problem but that’s because they’ve bought into the pull yourself up by your bootstraps philosophy even though they rely on social security.
So what could you want instead if you choose not to want what they wanted?
Strive to live smaller, without debt, so that what little money you can squeeze out of the broken system you’ve inherited is actually yours. The debt your parents are carrying is killing our economy along with your chances of getting what they wanted. Become as self sufficient as possible. Raise some of your own food. Own hard assets like your house and land. Create jobs for yourself that allows you to be self employed. Think environmentally friendly instead of adopting the burn it to the ground mentality of your parents. They were about waste. You don’t have to be.
Learn to conserve.
Minimalism has its own merits. We live in a throw away world that was founded on the idea of planned obsolescence. Despite unprecedented technological advancement, we produce, washers, dryers, refrigerators, hot water heaters and many other items that don’t last as long as they did in the past. Not by a little bit either, but by years. My first washing machine and dryer lasted me for over 20 years. Now, we’re lucky if they hold up for 8 to 10 years.
That makes no sense, right?
It makes sense if you consider that profit is the only thing that matters in our modern world. Whereas in the past, quality and a good name were also very important. People took pride in running a company that had been in business for sixty years or more. Not any longer. Here today gone tomorrow is just fine as long as the people at the top of the company make a killing.
Think long and hard about having children but if you do have them do it with this is mind. They will be alive long after you are gone. What will you be leaving them? Instead of kicking them out of the house the minute they turn 18, become the extended family unit that provides the boot straps. Show them that family is first. You’re already marrying later and divorcing less often than your parents did. That puts you on a much more enlightened and responsible track.
Find your passion and make sure to incorporate a bit of it into your life every day.
Real things not the material acquisitions of your parents. Creative outlets will make you feel alive. If you can find a way to turn your passion into your work, that’s even better, but never turn work into an all-consuming pastime that leaves you no time for creative expression.
Live small, but allow your spirit to expand. Your parents will try to discourage you. They’ll want you to go down the same path they did even though they are still in debt, often divorced, and literally working nonstop because they’re obsessed with material things. They will still want you to get married, have kids, buy a house you can’t afford and a car that’s above your pay scale, toys that break, and the endless pursuit of material emptiness. They believe that’s the definition of success.
Be strong and resist their American nightmare.
Last but not least. Think about what you want to leave behind, your legacy. It doesn’t have to be wealth and piles of junk. You can be comfortable with taking up a small space on this planet. Concentrate on moving society down the road toward something that is meaningful. Treasure nature, clean water and air, birds, bees, butterflies, and pristine natural habitats. You can’t eat, breathe, or drink money.
Your children, if you choose to have any, will appreciate what you leave to them.
Life is too short for your parent’s bullshit. Stand on the edge of what was as you anticipate what’s to come. And don’t be shy. Create the world you want. Follow your intuition and don’t sell out. The world will be yours soon.
Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.