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The American dream isn’t for everyone

There’s more than one path to get where we want to be in life

Samantha Margot, Staff Reporter
Originally published June 13, 2019

James Kerrigan

James Kerrigan

As the up and coming generations, we are trained to believe that there is one straight path to what we want in life; the twists and turns are mistakes that shouldn’t have been made. It’s normal for Americans to go from high school to university, to their first job, to starting a lovely and all-American family.

It is imparted onto us that there is one way to go through life. I don’t know about some,  but to me–the average joe–that doesn’t sound very fun at all.

The ocean is all about cycles, the rise of the tide and the fall of a wave, the constant renewal of energy. There is a reason that life in general is often compared to water; the predictable rise and fall of the tides with erratic riptides and tsunami’s, sounding remarkably similar to unpredictable and sometimes monotonous rituals of life.

The point of this rabble is that we need to relieve ourselves of endless appointments and expectations. Very rarely is there relief; on the off chance someone decides to take a break, said break suddenly becomes synonymous with slacking off.

It was early this year that I was on track, unfortunately it’s rare that life ever goes to plan. Not so surprisingly, when the precarious balance of school, work, sports and testing overwhelms me, my urge to drop it all runs rampant.

I was haggard, realizing I was surrounding myself with people who only talked about their absolutely-abhorrent grade of 89 percent, people who thought that grades were measurement of capability.

What I needed was a nice verbal slap in the face, something that told me there’s always a way to get what I want–even if it might not be the most advertised or acceptable one.

It was an old philosopher who provided the reality check. Between 70 CE and 135 CE, Rabbi Tarfon, a mishnah sage, often spoke with people who were disheartened by societal pressures.

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief,” Tarfon wrote. “Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Centuries later, his profound writing affects all types of grief, even those tied to the flickering greens, blues and yellows of report cards.

Sometimes I still run the pros and cons of becoming a surf bum or a boat carpenter a world away, the more climactic of my dreams involve leaving the country in a whirlwind of dramatic declarations to spend the rest of my days on an Italian vineyard. But, I don’t depend on them anymore.

What students often fail to realize until later on in their education is that there is no straight shot. This loosely translates to “everything is a grey area.” There is no perfect, and there is certainly no quaint hop from high school graduation to a destiny as a MIT graduate or activist or lawyer.

Our lives follow a cycle, we rise and fall just as the tide.

No matter how we define it, there is no singular path towards success. There is always another way to get where we want to be—a mini quest if you will.

Summer is coming, time to embrace “slacking off” and explore options for our life that aren’t so binary. It’s time to focus on the now.

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The American dream isn’t for everyone