The First Generation Immigrant "American Dream"
A look into the actual "American Dream" for first generation immigrants
What is the "American Dream"? Is it the freedom to say and believe in what you want? The freedom to take your future by the reigns and make something of yourself in this free country?
For most that is what it is. America sells you the dream that anyone can come here with nothing and make themselves into something. But for others, the American Dream is just to survive.
And as the daughter of a Vietnam War refugee, my mother's American Dream was to just survive.
With no college education and limited English speaking abilities, she works a 60 hour work week as an assembly technician at a big tech company (I'm excluding the name for privacy reasons), making roughly 50k per year. She's a single mom raising two children on her own, with most of her money going towards raising her two children & paying the skyrocketing rent prices in the Bay Area. She didn't choose to live in the Bay Area, but that's just where work is.
As a first generation born in America, my American Dream is not just to survive, but to live.
There is constant pressure instilled into the first generation children born from immigrant families, and it is the pressure to provide financial stability to your families to repay them for sacrificing their lives to raise you in a new country. The expectation is that you finish your education, and go get a career with a decent to high paying job where you then are able to not only provide for yourself, but also for your family.
There is no room for mistakes, because your family depends on you for survival.
This places a high stress on first generation children and young adults to "make it" in America. And it's a stress not many of us talk about, because it's just our life. We are faced with working a 30-40 hour work week to provide for ourselves and our families while going to school full time.
This is our current reality. But it isn't our end reality.
My American Dream is to live and I intend to do just that. I'm 21 years old and I work a 30 hour work week while going to school full-time to help support my family and myself. But I also make time for what makes me happy and I live my life to the fullest in my current reality. I work to organize and prioritize my own happiness and mental well-being. Because the journey to financial stability is only enough to survive, and the journey to happiness is what makes life worth living. And for those in the same or similar situations as me, don't forget that.