How the American Dream Has Changed
I’ve been having a really hard time lately. I want to own a home. A dwelling not attached to another one, a place just for me and my family that we don’t have to share with anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people who live upstairs from us right now, but I want our own place to grow roots.
My life has been anything but typical. My father was in the Army when I was little and so I lived state to state before settling down in the Albany area. But then, when I graduated high school, I was on the move again, living all over the country. The longest I’ve lived in one place as an adult is five years and that was when I lived in Pennsylvania.
I’ve always been an explorer. A traveler. A grabber of new opportunities. But now, I’m tired of always being on the go.
I never really wanted to have kids until I was told that I couldn’t. And then, a miracle happened and I was given my son. I always wanted to be the kind of person who took charge and held a lofty career position. Until I had my son. I always wanted to live among the hustle and bustle. Until I had my son. Now that I have this precious gift, everything has changed. I want a house to call our own. I want a plot of land that my boy can run and play in. I want less time at work and more play time with my son. I want simplicity in my life.
For as long as I can remember the American Dream has involved a white picket fence, a wife who has time to balance career and kids and still find time for herself, a family who sits together for dinner, weekend adventures, and a husband who comes home from work and loosens his tie before plopping on the floor to play with his kids. Oh, yeah and a dog. There has to be a dog.
That’s what I desperately want. This isn’t a pity party or a laundry list of complaints- it’s fact. My husband gets home from work at 12am and I start work at 4am. We see each other approximately 15 minutes each day. We rent half of a house. We don’t eat meals together. We don’t fall asleep talking to each other at night. It’s a good thing that we have such a strong relationship because if we didn’t we’d just be two strangers passing in the night.
My husband and I do what we do because we think that it's important that one of us is with our little guy as often as possible. We know the sacrifices we're making now will pay off in the future. We know it won't be like this forever.
But, the American dream as I've always known it, isn't so much anymore.
The American dream has changed pretty drastically and that’s because home ownership has dropped to a rate of around 63% – a 50-year low. It’s not that people don’t want to own a home, it’s that younger people are having a hard time jumping through the hoops at the bank and a lot of younger people are scared to commit to buying a house because no matter what we’re told, the job market is still so unpredictable.
Unlike their parents, millennials just aren’t able to look into the future and count on being in the same place and making the same income for five years. While I’m not a millennial, I understand. And it makes me sad.