We’ve Twisted The American Dream
Please, for your own sake, don't rely on going viral.
The United States has always been known as the land of opportunity, but somehow we've changed the types of opportunities we're talking about.
We went from the word "opportunity" meaning a chance to feed our families, to having the word reference our dreams of becoming rich and making it big. There is no problem with having big dreams -- in fact I couldn't encourage you enough to have them and follow them! Where our problem lies is in the methods we want to use to achieve those dreams.
While our dreams keep getting bigger, our tolerance for the amount of work we have to put in is getting smaller. Going viral is no longer a freak accident but an actual aspiration. We took the habits of YouTube videos and applied them to jobs and companies. We associate having an easy path with being truly successful and any type of barrier or hardship as a sign that this isn't meant to be.
We forget that even the most successful people had to struggle to get to where they are today. Take J.K. Rowling for example -- In a commencement speech at Harvard University, she explained her struggles of poverty in the midst of following her dreams and how "failure gave [her] an inner security that [she] had never attained before" through success. It was failure, not success that shaped her into becoming the person that she is today.
But our paths to success don't even have to be as dramatic as that! Even someone like Mark Zuckerberg, who seemed to have created a worldwide phenomenon on accident, has surely had his fair share of struggles as he grew Facebook to it's current size.
But I can't blame you for thinking that this kind of success is achievable. We're so quick to strive for an easy path to success because we don't always hear stories like J.K. Rowling's. The social media perpetuated mentality of creating a highlights reel to show off to the world has maybe made us look good, but has burdened everyone else with an unbearable sense of inadequacy.
We should be proud of our rocky paths. It proves that we have grit and are willing to sacrifice for what we love. If you're truly passionate about something, you should be willing to work hard to achieve the success you want.
And if you need to hear it from someone else for reassurance, a great philosopher once said…
“Life’s a climb… but the view is great.” -- Travis Brody, "The Hannah Montana Movie"
Originally published on The Odyssey Online.