Enough of the “American Dream” //

At 25 years old, I spent my New Year’s Eve de-cluttering my home, donating bags and bags of clothing and other items, and watching a documentary on minimalism. It wasn’t a wild night out at a club, but it was exactly what I needed. It was enough.

Coming into the new year, I was thinking a lot about the “American dream.” I was thinking about how much we romanticize the hustle…the nonstop…the consumption…the “more is more” mentality and way of life. Our idea of success has turned into numbers: credit scores, salaries, number of bedrooms, numbers of friends, number of likes, number of followers. Meanwhile, this definition of success means that we have a country filled with people who got jobs they hated in order to make more money to have more stuff they don’t even like/want/need/use to live places they can’t afford that they don’t even like and live in debt until they die to maintain the identity of this one thing…”success.”

Just a couple months ago, I was relaxing in the tub, which is something I do every night because it’s the only place I can really unplug and turn off. In my sacred space of peace and quiet, I finally had time to think for myself. I wondered how many of the decisions that have made up the course of my life came from conditioning, advertising, and social media.

Now, I know: this is funny coming from me. I’m all about balance. I love using social media as a tool. It has helped my business immensely. It can also be a great connector. But it is absolutely crucial that we have the self control and discernment enough to know when it isn’t serving us…to know when it has actually become a culturally accepted weapon. I don’t go on Pinterest anymore because it made me want more that I didn’t need. It made me compare. I don’t look at certain Instagram accounts because it turns into “want” and dissatisfaction. What we wanted to be an American Dream, for many, has actually killed our sense of identity and ability to be content. 

It’s okay if I don’t want a new car, even though mine isn’t fancy or shiny anymore. It’s okay that I don’t feel a need to move right now — that my one bedroom home actually is enough for me. It’s okay that I don’t have a Pinterest perfect house. It’s okay that I don’t have a massive loft photography studio. It’s okay that I don’t have credit cards. It’s okay that I live within my means and don’t exceed them in hopes that others perceive me as more exciting.

In my turning off and letting to, I have already gained so much but still have a long way to go. I have been able to love and accept myself more. I have been able to see myself as “enough”. When I stopped paying attention to magazines, advertisements, and sponsored product placement, I consumed less crap (for lack of a better word). I haven’t worn foundation in a year because I realized I don’t need it. I haven’t worn a bra in a year because I realized I don’t want or need it. I don’t seek out the bigger, the better, and the shiny new toy anymore…because what I’m really interested in is stripping away the cultural fog so that I can actually still see, recognize, and love my true self.

Elizabeth Gilbert said it best when she wrote, “I’m a better person when I have less on my plate.”

As a photographer, it’s a common problem to have a gadget addiction. But it’s funny–while I would appreciate certain business tools, I don’t spend my time wishing I had the newest camera or next best lens. What I have already is enough. It is allowing me to make my art. And saying I “need more” in order to create my work is a horrible excuse that has become a tainted American dream. We can actually dream and act upon contentment and what we have in our hands and bank accounts right now.
This year, I don’t have any resolutions to be the biggest boss lady and take over the world. Instead, these are my goals…and feel free to join me on this journey as I blog about the challenges and joys weekly this year.
-I am going to love myself and others deeply.

-I am going to quit something every Thursday like Bob Goff.

-I am going to get rid of/let go/donate an item once a week.

-I’m not going to purchase a single article of clothing this year in 2017, because I know I already have more than enough. (More on this later–I’m going to blog some fun tips and tricks on getting creative without consuming more stuff.)

-I am going to take bubble baths often.

-I am going to host in my sweet humble abode and have at least one friend over for dinner each week.

-I am going to unplug from social media and emails at least one day a week, and get better at not worrying about what I might be missing out on.

-I am going to be in nature more.

I am done operating out of a fear of lack. But we often have it wrong when we dream of abundance. Abundant life isn’t really just about having more, it’s about having plenty. Enough. Just enough. 

Happy New Year, friends.
(PC: Chachie McDonald)

One thought on “Enough of the “American Dream” //

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