Week five of my college experience has now come to an end and it is unbelievable to me that it has felt like five days and five months at the same time. Anything but five weeks. I know that this is college and we are all here to get an education, but this is so much more than that. Every time I look at my friend’s Snapchat stories or talk to them about their weeks, I can see that we are all headed in different directions and down different paths, yet we are all going together. Something about that to me just seems so beautiful, like a privilege to have that security in my life. I know that many of the people in my life will stick with me while I go chase my dreams and my education, I cannot wait to see where we all are in ten years.
Someone might say that this is the American Dream, the unattainable light we are all reaching for— that hope of an education, of something more. Tying into my political science class this week, we began talking about the American Dream and whether it is a myth or a reality. The question itself made me think for a moment, the automatic answer pausing in my throat. What if it’s both? While for some people it truly is a reality, for others (Gatsby anyone?), it is absolutely unattainable.
It made me wonder, where do I fit into that spectrum?
Years ago, if someone asked me what I wanted to be, I would say that I wanted to go into the medical field. First, it was a doctor, then a nurse, maybe physical therapist or trainer, possibly a surgeon, and now back to medical field as a whole. I guess that aspiration hasn’t really changed for me, it is still in the back of my mind. But in the back of my mind, ever since seventh grade, I have always had a new whisper in the back of my mind answering something completely different, something that most people would consider impractical. That voice would be answering, a writer. Last year in my AP Literature class, one of my all time favorite classes, I wrote in my Senior Portfolio that all I ever wanted to be was a writer. What did my teacher tell me in response? “You already are.”
Part of me wanted that to be enough, the understanding that I already am everything I need to be. But I know that it’s not, I want to be so much more than what I already am and everything I have ever done. More than an education or the aspirations I hold within my heart. More than the definitions of who I have been. So I published a poetry anthology, (shout out to my parents for that one), and I thought doing that would be good enough for me. Then I realized it wasn’t. Instead, I pushed onwards. Reaching for that goal every day, now I’m working on a novel and a second poetry anthology at the same time. Oh, and getting an education. Because there is so much I want to do in this life and as cliche as it sounds, there is so little time. My parents always said, “Minor in what you love, major in what you can pay the bills with.” As a Chemistry major hoping to minor in English, I believe in that advice because it makes sense to me. I get it. The American Dream doesn’t work out for all of us and they know I’ve got some crazy dreams. But that won’t stop me from trying. Truly, that is the American Dream isn’t it?
Like my professor asked, is it a reality or a myth?
Maybe it is both.
In my junior year of high school, we watched and read the Great Gatsby, a classic example of the American Dream. Since then I have always wondered how attainable it is or if the dream itself is still alive. At this point, I’d like to think that it is… Each of us have dreams don’t we? Call it the American Dream if you’d like, but I think most of us have aspirations and goals that may not quite be in our reach, but we’re willing to do what it takes to get closer to it so that maybe it can be. In that way, I think the green light is very much alive in everything we do, from education to parenting. That being said, is this dream truly attainable for every one of us? That part is a myth. Not all of us are going to be able to reach it and not all of us are even going to chase those dreams, that is the reality I see.
But like I said, that doesn’t stop us from trying. And it never will.
These past few weeks of my life have been so full of a significant amount of studying, lots of class time, and not nearly enough sleep. Yet every day, I am working towards a future of writing and education, two things I have been raised to value of the utmost importance. Because so many of us want something more, whether it is to be happy, or to have money, or simply to be a better version of ourselves. And me? I want to write more than I have ever wanted anything else in this life, to me that itself is more than a dream. It is my reality.
So maybe the American Dream is both a myth and a reality at the same time, it depends on how you look at it. But for each one of us who have a dream, even if it is just to see the glowing lanterns gleam, I say chase it. For me, soon enough five weeks will become five months, and before I know it college will be in the past. Now is the time to carpe diem, in reality, every day is. To seize this day, right here and right now, because I believe every one of us deserves to. Right now, I am a college student, only five weeks into my freshman year. But no matter how much time passes, what major I am, or what my aspirations truly become, I am a writer and a dreamer at heart. That is never going to change.