Defining The American Dream


A few weeks ago I had an assignment  – to write a retirement speech or eulogy for yourself in sixty-five years. The objective is to evaluate your personal and professional life – to find out how much you know yourself, I suppose. I thought it’d be a breezy paper – no research, no particular “rules”. But actually, it was difficult to describe my traits and personality in words, even though I believe I know quite well what my strengths/weaknesses are. It was harder to define my dreams, and even more difficult to find a place for them in the real world. I realized how little I knew about how life outside of school works, and what precious little I was doing to actually make my dreams come true.


Frankly, I don’t have a specific dream; you know, how some people know with all their mind and soul that they will work at X company, accomplish Y by Z age, etc. In fact, in terms of professional life, I have no idea whatsoever what it is that I want to do – and honestly I don’t think I’d be too choosy about it. I like to accept whatever situation I happen to be in, and do well at that (unless the situation is so unsuitable that it makes life ultimately miserable). I guess you could say that my dream is just to be happy in general, without any restrictions…

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… which leads into my next topic: this blog was started more or less to document the path to obtaining the ‘American Dream’, a USA national ethos originated in 1931 that sets ideals in which an individual can potentially gain success and social mobility, rewarded by hard work. (Whoa, run-on sentence much?) The idea takes its roots from the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that all men are created equal with the right to the pursuit of happiness. (Watch Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happiness; it’s amazing.)


The meaning of the American Dream has changed over time – probably the most common concept being to own a house and a car with a middle-upper class social status. Of course the components vary for everyone, and for me, the American Dream really only involves doing well in a stable job (really any job), and enjoying the luxuries that I worked hard for. Of course being passionate for the organization you work for is vital for doing well at your job, and a natural stimulus for motivation… but I feel like I am easily “tricked” into being passionate for anything I become involved in (unless it really doesn’t suit me, as in the case of OCAD University last year). It’s such a complicated mixture of spontaneity and specific details… but I suppose the point is… I haven’t defined my American Dream.

Enjoy these old photos from last year!


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