The American Dream starts at a young age, especially in the middle class. From the time of birth, most parents have high aspirations for their child, and it all starts with a name. Some say that a name dictates class and economic prosperity for the future, but can a name really change the economic rung on the ladder to which a child is born?
According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, only 44% of Americans believe that today's youth will be better off than their parents. Though a seemingly low statistic, the hope is still there. Higher economic standing may not be everyone's American Dream. For some, being better off than their parents is not what is important. Some set goals to become the doctor who discovers the cure for cancer, the President who rights the economy, the fashion designer who revolutionizes fashion, or the athlete who brings home the gold medal from the Olympics. The other form of the American Dream? The white picket fence, the large yard, the four-person family that has a sit-down meal every night.
The individual version of the American Dream is not important. What is important is that the idea of achieving whatever one sets his or her mind to be instilled at a young age. My parents have always been supportive of my dreams and aspirations, and they have helped shape those into goals. Though a personal anecdote, being raised to believe oneself can succeed is a common trait amongst Generation Y, or Generation Next. In an article by The Atlantic, this generation is deemed the "Trophy Generation" and said to be raised in the "Cult of Self-Esteem." Constant praise is worrisome; however, this praise also pushes youth to work harder to be recognized, and eventually achieve one's own American Dream that has been subconsciously formulated since birth.
Individually, the American Dream can be achieved with drive, determination, and goal setting. But as a nation, as America, it is difficult to achieve the Dream that will set us on the right path. How does American achieve her own Dream? It may start with instilling hope in current and future generations. In having more than just 44% of people believe they can achieve higher economic prosperity than their parents; but this is not the root of the American Dream, it is much deeper than this.
The answer to this question is to be explored in future blogs. In the meantime, I have faith that Generation Next, the rising generation of go-getters, trend-setters, and leaders, the generation that is 80 million strong, will be able to achieve that dream.