By Elena Bezzubov (Russia)
Historically, the American Dream is often associated with the immigrant experience. It is what inspired and inspires so many to come here. America is a matter of the spirit and the soul. America is more than a nation, it is a concept… a dream. The American Dream means having the freedom and ability to be what one wants to be. America is not a gene pool or an ancient nation. Americans are born in different countries and come here at different times in their lives. Everyone has a part of being an American in them, embedded, deep inside, until they choose to release it and share it with the world.
Nevertheless, being an American requires something more than just living here, speaking English, obeying the law, and holding a job. I think being an American means living a distinct ideological and cultural lifestyle. America is a country with its unique political, economic, and social values, beliefs, and institutions. America attracts dreamers, leaders, discoverers, opportunists, go-getters, troubled geniuses, ambitious architects, and even broken-hearted lovers into this melting pot and, more often than not, it offers them more than one lottery ticket.
The American Dream makes America great. Not only because America offers religious freedom, economic prosperity, and meritocracy to its immigrants, but also because their American Dreams have always motivated them to go beyond the limits in their lives. With so many people in this country and so many different goals, there really cannot be just one big general “American Dream.” Many people discover success in many different areas. Some hope for a big house and the perfect family, others hope for a good education and an even better job. Once they get the something they have been yearning for, they automatically find something else to obsess over. It can be a never ending vicious cycle. However, the American Dream embraces relative prosperity, personal safety, and personal liberty. But how many actually achieve it? Is it a myth or a reality, fact or fiction?
I truly believe that the American Dream is the balance between what we need, how much we want it, and what we are willing to do for it. For me, having an American Dream is just like having a goal, which can always bring me back on track whenever I get lost on my journey. It inspires me whenever I am tired of failures. This dream, or goal, sets a purpose in my life and propels me to move closer to my destiny.
I dreamed about America for years. I always felt like I was a black sheep in my hometown in Russia. I wished for the opportunity to travel all over the world, to explore new cultures and to make international friends. I like to be challenged and tend to discover new things. That is why I was attracted to the idea of moving to New York, this diverse and energetic city, to pursue my American Dream. I have been living in New York for almost three years now and I do not have any regrets about my decision. Although it was a financial and professional risk, I did not struggle with it. Surprisingly, I feel more confident about my decision every day.
Now it seems like the right time to ford another stream and climb another mountain. I am here to find a balance, to succeed both in my professional and personal life. If something will make me happy, I owe it to myself to try it. I know it is a cliché to say this, but “no risk, no reward.” Whether it is being who I am personally or overcoming challenges financially, I have the chance to succeed and get ahead in this country. I do not think many people can say that outside of America. There are far fewer restrictions in America than in other countries.
Having said that, I must admit that the American Dream has many aspects, and it can be a fact or fiction depending on the efforts of individual Americans. It allows those with aspiration, desire, or yearning to carry on and to make their dreams come true. What anyone passing through the American immigrant experience has to have is ambition, perseverance, and a zest for life.