Letting Go of the American Dream
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to see the world. I grew up without a lot of money and besides living in Hawaii for a year, which was a complete fluke, I haven’t been to many places. I didn’t even see snow for the first time until I was 14. If it hadn’t been for my grandparents taking me to see snow, it would have been even later in life. The only airplane rides I ever went on were to see my grandparents. I’ve never had a passport. The idea of travel felt like a dream that I would never get.
Pregnant at 17
I grew up in a very small town with a population under 1000 and not much to do. As a result, I became pregnant at 17 and had my daughter at 18. I was determined to get out of that little town and not become a teen mom statistic. I put myself through college, moved to Portland, OR, and slowly did everything I was “supposed” to do in my life to achieve the American Dream. I got a few college degrees, a job in my field with healthcare and paid vacation, purchased my own vehicle, and bought a house. I was living the American Dream. Right? Then why did all I think about was letting go the American Dream?
Different Experiences Growing Up
Mine and Drew’s experiences growing up were very different from each other. He never knew what it was like to not have enough food or a family vehicle. He didn’t have to pay for college or pay to live while going to college. He got an all expenses paid trip to Europe for a month following college. He never had to think about money growing up and as a result didn’t know very much about how to manage, budget, or live within his means. When he didn’t have enough to pay for something he needed or spent too much money going out, there was always someone there to bail him out. As he reached his 30s, he had nothing he had worked hard towards to achieve. He was no where near living the American Dream. Even with all of the opportunities that had been handed to him.
Dealt with Money in Different Ways
When we came together, the ways we dealt with money were very different. I always knew exactly how much money I had down to the penny, which bills were coming up, and what needed to be paid for and purchased with the next funds coming in. Drew, not so much.
He didn’t even usually know how much was in his checking account and had never even made a budget before. There were struggles for years over how to spend our money and on what. Eventually, I gave into living a lifestyle I knew we couldn’t afford, but it made Drew happy. Not the best decision on my part, but sometimes you just want to see the one you love happy. No matter what the cost. I take full responsibility for that.
Not Giving Much Thought to Money
We were going out to eat, going on vacations, buying items for our house, and anything else we wanted to do without giving much thought to the money we didn’t have to spend or the debt we were creating. We wanted something now and we got it. Until our credit cards were maxed out, our savings account was empty, and there wasn’t anything left to buy more. That’s when we hit rock bottom with our debt and I realized something needed to be done about it.
Letting Go of the American Dream
I got to the point where all I thought about was letting go of the American Dream. I didn’t want to live the life that lead us to so much debt. I didn’t want things. It didn’t seem worth it to be chained to so much debt just to get some kind of thrill that disappeared so quickly. I wanted something more than that. Something I’d been wanting all of my life and I was finally ready to go after. I wanted the world. To finally get my passport and use it by seeing the world, experiencing different cultures and at times, getting lost in translation. Luckily, my husband, Drew, wanted the same. We made our plan to get out of debt and to take the next steps toward our future goals- letting go of the American Dream and set off to see the world. It’s time.
What do you think of letting go of the American Dream?