the American Dream 2.0

I recently watched this documentary on Netflix called ‘The Minimalist.’ It’s about these two guys who had high paying jobs and found themselves increasingly unsatisfied and stressed over the type of lives they were living. They started looking at what were making them so stressed and unhappy and saw that the root of their problems was their connection to material possessions. After this realization, they both gave up this high maintenance lifestyle and begin to live less and a life that made them happy. They gave up their many belongings and started living within a suitcase of materials and started writing about this lifestyle of less.

For a while, I had begun reflecting on my life and looking at what was making me stressed and very unhappy. I started to realize that I was unhappy for the same reasons as those two guys. I was living in an abundance of material possessions that commercials and others told me were supposed to make me happy. These things were only drowning me and making me feel as if these things were supposed to be more than what they were than just a poster or new pair of shoes. Another thing mentioned in this documentary made me think about where my priorities were in life and what distractions disguised themselves as priorities. One of the guys was in an office meeting and ignored calls and one from his mom of a cancer diagnosis. I don’t know why, but that especially made me think about where my priorities were. Were they in gaining success by owning possessions or with successful relationships and being in the moment? This question and other stress factors pushed me towards change.

I had wanted to bring great change to my life, but kept planning and didn’t know when I should do so. I had been thinking of changing for a while, but freaking stats and college work was a good excuse for me to delay acting upon it. When winter break started, I knew that I was ready.

I think one of the biggest things that make me unhappy was social media and the people I happen to know. Everyone is a hypocrite, but some people act more hypocritical than others and to see how unruly people actually were on social media while still shoving their morals on others made me upset. I didn’t see these people every day due to different paths, but I wanted to ignore these people completely by not being their friend or following them. I also didn’t want to become more like them by keeping it real and being myself. I remember this being the biggest factor in deleting my twitter a while back and now my snapchat. I told myself I didn’t have to stay connected through all these pointless social media apps, but by those I actually wanted to talk to and those who wanted to talk to me. It hasn’t bothered me at all and the people who actually care have kept in touch, and that’s good enough.

Like the Minimalist, I wanted to live less and decided that I wouldn’t spend money on any more material goods for at least a year. I live with plenty. I have a couch in my room along with a bed, dresser, two bookcases and books flooding along the walls, a desk, and closet also flooding with clothes. I don’t need anything else and decided to clean out and begin living less. I have a big book addiction and love to buy new books but realized I have lots of books and many that I’ve yet to read. To save and live like the Minimalists, I’ve decided to read all the books on my shelves, borrow them from the local libraries, and read at least an hour in Barnes of new novels. With this money, I want to save for my planned travels across the country and on experiences.

This was my first year driving. I love that it brings more independence and allows me to go more places than before. I have explored new places and new roads since getting my license. I know the backroads to avoid traffic on the highway and shortcuts to get home along with new cheaper places to eat than the ever popular Chicfila and Wendy’s. I’ve made it a goal to explore more and discover new places every day so I can experience the off beaten path and do new things. This also meant for doing more within my day. I want to live so much within a day I feel like breakfast was such a long time ago instead of 8 hours ago. Since living like this, I have been able to bring my friends to new places to hang out and able to leave my phone in my car to enjoy walks in the forest. It’s been great so far living like this.

Duke is my absolute dream school and I want to get there somehow. I really want to push myself to be like Hermione and be ahead of my readings and overall studious. This semester I’m pushing for a 4.0 and so far have emersed myself in my textbook readings. Each subject I’ve read so far is very interesting and I hope I can keep this interest as the semester continues. I don’t want to drown in school work and dedication, but I do want to make a better grade so I can get into journalism and eventually law. This is a dream in the working and hopefully will become a journey despite the obstacles and laziness and procrastination that shall come. Duke is the dream and it’s not gonna be one that only visits me in my sleep.

I also want to work towards my artistic abilities and writing. This semester I would often de-stress by sketching and painting, and saw that I really liked my artwork and how much it has improved over the years. I’ve always received praise for my artwork, but want to be better and create more pieces that make me happy. The only way is through practice and creating more, and this year I want to draw more to be satisfied with my work. I’m happy for drawing things I actually like and look nice. I hope to improve and keep the artistic flow going. Along with drawing, I want to become a better writer. I think this would mean more blog posts and also working on a novel idea I’ve had for a while. I’d love to go into journalism and eventually publish and to get there, I’m going to have to practice writing. Any artist could probably agree that there is always room for improvement and that you will never be satisfied with what you haven’t done yet.

2017 looks pretty optimistic so far in being the best me yet. I am motivated to live fuller and happier. I want to be the best I can be and happy while doing it along with my friends and family. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can look back and think wow I can’t believe I did so much within a year. I don’t want the same regretful feeling of not doing enough. This year I want to do more and be more. By living with fewer books, clothes, shoes, and other materials, I hope I can live this new satisfied and abundant life of experiences, heartbreak, honesty, and adventure. The new American Dream isn’t working towards a house with a white picket fence and two cars in the driveway because we can afford it and that new couch for the living room and blender to make smoothies, but it is to live knowing you have good priorities and amazing experiences.

Be bold this year. Whatever you wish to accomplish you can do as long as you stay dedicated to it and make it a priority. Keep running, keep the faith, keep eating that nasty kale, keep exploring, keep moving. It’s not just a new year for a new start, but every day is a new day for that new start you’ve been putting off. This is your year, so choke it.

xx

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