They Go Beyond the American Dream
Successful women learn that the American dream is not a terminal where you get off; but is just a resting place, at best. Held up as a place of aspiration and inspiration, it is a template to go towards when one is struggling in poverty, needing education and willing to work hard to improve quality of life. Even then for people who aspire and gain entrance; it is really just a temporary respite, if one is going to have meaningful, purposeful and abundant life. It is a place to reflect on what has been accomplished, knowing that this state is not completion.
What then is the American Dream?
For most it means striving towards acceptance and success, mostlyaccepting other people’s ideas of how it is accomplished. “Successful” in this context is usually a narrow version of seccess, given to it by our culture. It means setting linear goals and ending up at some designated place with a finished product.
Becoming more successful, according to this template, increases pressures to attend the right schools, belong to the same churches, the right clubs, and marry the right person. Add to this bouquet of privileges: the right work and beliefs that we will get to retire at a certain age, with time to travel and have fun. Is it a choice really? There’s little space here for fresh air and diversity.
Sue, summed up her climb towards, and actually living the American Dream. She told me that she was smart in school and won scholarships to attend university. “I used education to pull me out of an impoverished situation, but I feel like I am still in a box; a bigger box than I grew up in, but a box nevertheless. I feel confined”. She acknowledged that education was a freeing experience and opened up doors and opportunities that far exceeded her expectations. She is not happy and feels stuck again, believing that she did not go far enough and more or less settled.
She denied an earlier pull towards creative adventures and immersed herself in a course of study that would assure her financial rewards. She acknowledges that she is experiencing job satisfaction but does not have a passion for her work or her life.
She finds herself leaving home every morning to go to make more money to reach a higher level of the American Dream. She admitted that she is living a life of comfort but it is also one of mediocrity in that she has sacrificed higher yearnings, to conform to expectation. She came to me for help to figure out what to do to get beyond feeling stagnant. Recently she compared her life to that of being on an escalator, striving to keep going up and up, to have a bigger box and more status.
Sue said that her husband is stressed as well, being controlled by his weekly planner, while striving to accomplish more on the ladder of financial success, running in circles as if this is the way life is, putting off living until: until. What for she asked? We have arrived by the standards of the American dream but where are we: there must be more.
In this case it is a woman that is on the self imposed merry-go-round and not allowing the luxury of reflection until now.
Often a woman living in the American Dream paradigm either overtly or covertly feels as though it is set up to put her on an unequal footing, or to assume a less important role in life than her partner. Women who have not found the secrets of their personal power sometime try harder and work harder withour being faithful to themselve, There is an invisible pressure to be happy with her status and not reach beyond the comfort level of those around her..
Women who know, realize that attempting to find happiness and fulfillment by way of the American Dream leaves them wanting. There’s not enough here to stand the test of time.
Too much life energy gets caught up in filling in all the right boxes and living in a competitive or comparitive state, with the essence of self sacrificed. You may find happiness for a while and then grow restless, bored, or depressed.
I have seen them all already,
the mornings evenings afternoons
I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.
(T.S. Eliot: Alford Prufrock)
My trip into and out of the American Dream went as follows. After an impoverished early life, I marriedan Air Force Officer, had two wonderful daughters, a home, and more material comforts than I expected. It looked like I was living the American Dream. It was a life with more comfort than I ever had, and for that I was grateful. After a few years I had the feeling that there had to be another level of fulfillment in addition to the roles of wife and mother. I scolded myself to suck it up and berated myself for wanting more, while wondering “is this all there is”?
Wanting to attend university full time instead of taking a course here and there, I expected my husband’s support until he advised me that it would be ok if nothing changed at home. We did not know how to mediate that chasm of different needs. Alas! My marriage could not hold space for me to grow and I chose to leave. It was a fearful and tenuous path to leave the comfort of the American Dream and travel towards the unknown.
I do not advocate divorce as a necessary step to pursue one’s dreams, however in my case it was the healthiest choice. Like myself I have encountered many women wanting to get out of situations or relationships whereby growth was not possible, talk about their guilt. I understand about having guilt in wanting more. I masked guilt and discontent for years, afraid to say out loud what I was really feeling..
I have also worked with couples who have changed the American Dream paradigm that they thought was real in early marriage, to create step by step an egalitarian relationship. Women, who manifest the life that they desire and deserve, know that true equality is a necessity in a committed relationship. Two people: each willing to do the uncomfortable work of examining what they have and become creative about what they are willing to forge. As life often is when we disturb the status quo, it can be quite messy for a while. It takes a boatload of patience, understanding, courage and a willingness to hang in there when it is confusing and without guarantees.
Rumi says “let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you love.”
Although the American dream offers a sense of having achieved a certain status, of having arrived and belonging, it also leaves many deeply unfulfilled, and longing for other possible futures. Many women want to create their own lives that suit who they are and who they are becoming. Desiring more does not mean it is easy, it can be challenging, but when determined, they can make it beautiful, creative, awesome, curious, expansive and happier.
Can you hear Willie Nelson singing: “but it’s my life”?.
If you find yourself unhappy or confused, stop, reflect and ask yourself some questions to gain clarity.
Have you settled for comfort or an illusion of security? Is the American Dream what you hoped that it would be or are you still striving towards it?
Successful women go beyond the American Dream. They do not follow blindly what other people believe is the right path for them. They know from experience that when they stop and reflect at a deep level, that they will know intuitively what is right for them and not settle for less.
When you break out of stagnant experiences, you will change your life story: when you change your life story, abundance can be yours, and the world around you changes in response to your new higher level of consciousness. You see and experience the world around you in a very different way, some may think it magiocal!.
For further Secrest Shared :What Successful Women know about Manifestion: go to laurabyoung.com