I’ve noticed that whenever someone asks my husband or I how we’ve been, we usually reply with “oh you know, just living the dream.” HA. The dream, “The American Dream” is a joke, just so you’re aware. In fact, the whole phase in life known as adulthood is one big fat trap.
TV, movies, your baby boomer parents, your great depression era grandparents would all have you thinking that the way life goes is this:
You spend 12 years going to high school, then you graduate.
Then you get accepted to a four year university, which you will pay for with scholarships of course.
Then you will graduate, and right away land a living salary job with your degree, because honestly, you won’t get a living salary job unless you have a degree.
You will then be able to purchase a house! And of course, be able to make the mortgage payments, and all other expenses with no issues, because you went to college, and got that degree!
Then you may or may not meet someone. You may or may not fall in love and get married. You may or may not start a family.
You will retire at age 65, with your awesome pension, from your awesome job, and continue to live your life out happily ever after.
Here’s how it really goes, for me at least, and most of the people I know:
I spent 12 years going to school. I graduated from a good school, a technical trade high school, where I learned more than your average American high school student. I graduated with a 3.85 GPA, and high honors.
I attended community college, which I paid for with loans, because I’m a white female from a middle class family, and I didn’t qualify for any scholarships. None. Federal financial aid? Yeah that’s a joke. They base your eligibility off of your parents income, because they expect your parents to help pay for your college education, until you are 24 years old. After that, then they will consider just your income. Those loan payments by the way, are $450 a month.
I didn’t finish my associates degree, because I was also living on my own, paying ridiculous Portland Rent, just trying to survive. Working full time and going to school just became too much. I think I might’ve jumped off a bridge if I had continued. So I didn’t. Plus, those loans ran out, and that means books and tuition were coming out of my pocket.
I moved out of my parents house at 19, and spent the next 8 years moving every two years, from one cramped apartment to another. From one crappy neighborhood to the next. Just wherever we could afford.
The we, would be my husband and I. This is part of the “American Dream” that actually came true. At 20, I met a boy, and we fell in love. We got married 7 years later.
At 20 years old, I left my mall retail job, for a “better” retail opportunity. Only to be fired a month later, because I wasn’t cheery enough. I spent one month unemployed. I didn’t collect unemployment. I relied on the kindness of others to make it through that month. I then, by the grace of the universe, landed my first “adult job”, through a temp agency of all places. I still work at this job. I don’t make an astronomical amount of money, but I make more than most of the people I call friend. I have full medical, dental, and vision, which I don’t pay a dime for. I have profit sharing, and 401k. I receive 29 paid days off a year. My supervisor, which I’m hopefully being set up to replace when she retires, make $60k a year. I got lucky in this. I truly, truly did.
We got married this last summer, in a park, with a potluck reception. We bought our first house, but only because we received a federal grant for the down payment. Without this grant, owning a home would have literally never been possible for us. Because, when you’re paying rent, and all the other millions of bills you have, how does anyone have even 3% of the purchase cost of a house just lying around?
Even with my amazing job, and my husband busting his ass at his full time job, we have two roommates. We could do it without the roommates, but for what? We would literally be working to have nothing. That ladies and gentlemen, is what has become of “The American Dream”. You get out of a hole, to have your pipes clog, and you spend $60 trying to unclog them yourself, because rotor rooter is at least $300. Your dryer breaks and you spend $50 on parts, trying to figure out how to fix it yourself. Your car breaks down, and you hope it’s not something expensive, or worse, something that you can’t fix yourself. Your dog gets into something and starts throwing up, and you spend $200 at the vet to have them tell you he’s fine, just feed him chicken and rice for a few days. You get bronchitis, and miss a week of work, and spend $100+ on doctor and prescription co-pays; and hopefully you’re lucky enough to even have paid sick time. Your dog eats your only pair of shoes, and you have to go out and spend money you don’t have on new ones. You lose weight, and your clothes don’t fit, and you have to go buy new clothes. It’s really a never ending, very expensive, trap.
Us “millennials” are told that if we put our minds to it, and work hard enough, we’ll be rewarded. This is utter crap. Because believe me, we hard hard enough, and it’s always a struggle. I know plenty of people who work harder than I do, for half the money, and live in tiny 700sqft apartments, in very scary neighborhoods. The Dream is a joke.