The “American Dream” is Ruining Young People’s Perception of Adult Life

The American Dream is dead. Correction- the American Dream should be dead. The idea that anyone in America can succeed if they work hard enough, regardless of background, is so incredibly ignorant. The ideal of the American Dream has been shoved down teen’s throats as they exit high school and move onto the real world. “Success and prosperity will come to those who work for it!” they say. However, let’s look at the facts. 


The facts being that the college enrollment rate in 2019 decreased significantly and has continued to decrease over time. Today’s generation is simply no longer interested in the “traditional” path. Whether that decision is for financial reasons or personal preference remains relatively unknown. However, when speaking to my peers, mostly juniors and seniors, there has been one main consensus. We don’t want to live the life our parents have- no offense? 


Teenagers today are less interested in settling down, starting a family, and working for 40+ years until retirement, and frankly, I don’t blame them. For example, a study conducted in 2019 showed that only three-in-ten millennials live with a family of their own at the age of 23-38, compared to 40% of Generation X and 46% of boomers at the same age. The majority of us have watched as our parents slave away to corporate jobs and oftentimes barely make ends meet. The middle class has become a breeding ground for exhaustion and false hope. The truth is, society was not set up for “people like us” to succeed. News flash, hard work is rarely adequately rewarded!


The number of stories I have heard from family about them working two jobs while balancing school and their social life is honestly a bit scary. The worst part about it all is that they state this as if it’s a proud accomplishment! Don’t get me wrong; it is impressive. What they are missing is how not normal that is. We should not hear stories like that and think, “wow, I hope to work hard like that someday.” Instead, we should question why anyone would ever have to balance all of that to survive. 


The “American Dream” is not a dream at all. When talking with my peers, I often hear about how they don’t want to grow up. Mainly because they have no interest in working 9-5’s, and therefore feel less valuable to our society. Our generation has a unique form of hopelessness for the future, and I believe that the expectations from our elders to follow in their footsteps are to blame. In all honesty, the American dream was never made for us anyway.