Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lesson 8: Make It Your Own

There’s a house on my ice cream route that I pass nearly every day.

Honestly, there’s no real reason for me to even be driving by it. I don’t remember a single time anyone has ever actually bought ice cream in that neighborhood, but I still troll through on a weekly basis. And why? To catch a glimpse of my dream house.

It’s not even the actual house that I’m in love with, it’s the colors. Crisp white, dark navy blue shutters and a bright red door. And I mean a bright red door. The kind of red that says, unapologetically, "I know who I am, now you know who I am, deal with it."

The thing is, when I think of the American Dream, I tend to think of a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and some kind of groomed shrubbery. A man and woman stand out front, their 2.4 children and golden retriever clamoring around their feet. The woman is wearing an apron and holding a plate of freshly baked cookies (or an apple pie). She sports a clearly pregnant belly, while the rest of her remains slim and toned. The man has short hair and is dressed in a "casual" business suit; maybe his sleeves are even rolled up. Both of them wear fulfilling, but probably fake, smiles. There's a large pickup truck in the driveway with mud on the tires and random pieces of lumber in the bed. Next to the truck is a tricycle...or a shotgun. Definitely a grill in the backyard, maybe even a swimming pool. Oh yeah, and an American flag is on display somewhere on the front of the house.

I have seen this exact picture countless times on magazine covers, and contrary to the media's intense desire to shove this image down my throat, this picture is not my dream. And I'm not so sure it's other peoples' dream either.

What about the people who don't want kids, or are allergic to dogs? What if the picture revolved around a gay couple, and displayed two women or two men in the front yard, smiling with their children? What's wrong with that?

Nothing is wrong with it. Our dreams are what we choose them to be. Screw the critics, I say do what you want.

As a matter of fact, I say screw the idea of living for the future altogether. The whole concept means that my present life is, by default, subpar to my future life. That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous to think I'll be happier someday when I'm married, have children, or lose 20 pounds. I understand having goals, and striving for something better, but that doesn't mean neglecting the importance of what you are going through right now. Sure I long for the day when I no longer have "homework" at the top of my to-do list, or have to rely on night shifts and ice cream sales to pay for tuition, but these experiences are shaping me into the person who can truly appreciate my goals when I eventually achieve them someday.

Not saying I don't have a picture of my dream house in my mind, one with a red door, window boxes, and a porch swing. Oh and some kind of secret room where the only entrance is via sliding door opened only by pulling a specific book on a bookshelf (probably the 6th Harry Potter Book, or The Count of Monte Cristo...hey it's my dream, isn't it?). But it's just that, a future dream, something to look forward to.

The point is, I have the right to paint my own picture of my future life. My definition of happiness is my own, not some media-generated falsehood. Right now I have the freedom to blog about whatever is on my mind, the love of my life sitting next to me, and a belly full of fresh homemade Rice Krispy Treats. Who's to say I'm not already living the American Dream?

How do you define your dream?

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  1. Perfectly said!!! I think it is great you figured that out at such a young age. I'm 45 and it's just dawning on me that I can make my own happily ever after!! Great post!

  2. I'm really enjoying your writing. Well said/written. You make your own dreams and you live them!

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  4. Dreaming is something we all should know belongs to each individual. If we all had the same dream...the world would be very boring. Great post. Thanks for becoming a follower of Finger Click Saver. I have come to return the love. Have a great day!

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  6. I love to dream big, and THAT is the "American Dream".

    It strange and hugely misleading when the media paints the old, familiar picture that you described above. You are so right, I doubt that is what most people dream of. That for sure wasn't MLK's dream when he made his famous speech. I'm sure that was the farthest thing from Rosa Park's idea of the "American Dream" when she refused to move. I doubly doubt that it was Henry Ford's dream when he decided to begin Ford Motor Company.

    Glad to see that I'm not the only one thinking "WTF" whenever I see that picket fence image. That's the farthest thing from what I want and what I dream of.

  7. I love what you said here. "I understand having goals, and striving for something better, but that doesn't mean neglecting the importance of what you are going through right now."

    One of your best posts, thank you.

  8. Absolutely!

    My grandmother used to tell me not to "wish your life away" any time I was say "I can't wait for ____ to be here" I hear her words every Monday when I'm wishing Friday would "be here". I've recently become aware of how much "programming" there is in our every day life. You're absolutely correct - we are inundated on a regular basis with what we're supposed to believe. It's good to stop and consider if it's our own beliefs or theirs?

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  10. Great post. I can't wait to read more. Thanks for following my blog Let's Start Saving Now. I am returning the favor.


  11. I love this post, thank you so much! You have a great blog here, I am glad I found you!

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  12. It sounds like a cliche but I define "dream" as a desire that's deeply personal and specific to the individual. I'm English, so I'm not really qualified to comment on the American Dream but I know what you mean when you say that it's not your dream at all. It wouldn't be mine either. I don't aspire to a massive house that's flawless and beautiful in every way. To use another cliche, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so long as a house made me feel comfortable, I couldn't care less what it looked like and it's certainly no-one else's business.

    My dream house is fairly unspecific. I'd love for it to stand on its own little bit of land, as I don't want a dozen other houses pressing in on me. I want enough room to breath but no so much that my breathing echoed. And I want a power shower in a proper shower cubicle and a big brick barbecue.

    The swimming pool, the chandeliers, the perfectly orderly garden that I'm supposed to be dreaming of, I can't say any of that appeals to me. Least of all the garden. I might have a small cactus somewhere in the house (because I'd probably kill any other plant)or a dandelion in a pot (because I think they're much maligned) but a big garden would be far too much work, thank you very much.

    Sadly, I'm probably only going to achieve the power shower and the brick barbecue. The house valuation on any completely detached property would be astronomical. But like I said, so long as the house makes me feel comfortable, that's my dream house.

  13. Great, nice post, I was wondering the same thing and found your site by Google, learned a lot and now I have got some idea. I’ve bookmark your site. Keep us updated.
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  14. Thanks for reminding me! You have a great blog! I can totally relate- my husband I just finished college and spent many years living on student loans and being FAR below the poverty line. :) But it is totally worth it in the end! :)
    I found you over at KdBuggie and I love your blog! I am your newest follower and would love to have to stop by our blog and follow back if you want!
    Camille @

  15. I can completely relate to passing through a neighbourhood needlessly because it has your dream home. My hubby and I have recently just bought a house which we hope to transform into our dream home. It’s not quite as hard as I thought it may have been. I was literally like where do we start, but we got pretty awesome conveyancing specialists that dealt with the headache of all the legal stuff. Organising the mortgage was pretty tough but we got there eventually. So now were at the fun part where we get to design, think about paint and deco! I can’t wait. I hope you get your dream home in the end


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