Why The Millennial Nomadic Lifestyle Isn’t Any Better Than The “American Dream”

Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash

The American Dream is a joke, right? It’s full of white picket fences, a nice car in every driveway, and kids playing baseball in the cul-de-sac.

The American Dream is a stable 9–5, an IRA, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. And most Millennials would probably say, “screw that.”

Why? Because that’s not actually what the American Dream really is.

The American Dream is nothing more than a life philosophy. It’s the dream that a free society can foster the ability to pursue happiness, a concept enshrined in our country’s Declaration of Independence and ensured through our Constitution.

It’s not a myth and it’s something each generation has to interpret for themselves.

Millennials Live The American Dream Too

Millennials largely care about the same things the previous generation cared about. 70% care about being happy. 60% care about owning a home. 55% care about being debt free. And 51% care about a comfortable retirement.

But they’re more mobile than their parents and grandparents. More Millennials care about mobility and flexibility (85%) than those who care about happiness. And 67% say they would love to become expats.

The Millennials should be re-termed The Nomads.

Look on Facebook or Instagram and you’ll see pictures of Millennials visiting almost any country you could name. And remote work is now extremely popular. 43% of Americans with a job worked some of 2016 remotely.

This new American Dream is better than any other generation’s version, right? Wrong.

Every Generation “Killed” The American Dream

Every time there is a major economic shift in our country, the naysayers come out of the woodwork. The American Dream supposedly died multiple times in our nation’s history.

In the mid-19th century our country ripped apart in a violent Civil War that lasted five years. The American Dream (and the right to own slaves) was under fire.

The American Dream at the time depended upon massive numbers of people working fields and factories. The industrial revolution and the abolition of slavery changed that.

Smart people invented incredible machines to do the work of 100 men or more. The generation who fought in the Civil War lived the American Dream differently than the first American generations.

The 20th Century Brought New Challenges

The decadence of the 1920’s changed the goal of the American Dream. Before, if you lived the American Dream, you attempted to better your life and the life of future generations.

You worked hard for the betterment of America.

In the 20’s, material possessions became the metric for success. Some would say greed was the new American Dream and that we squandered it.

But it was the greed of the select few that destroyed our economy and ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930's.

The American Dream never divorced material gain. The age of the automobile both connected and isolated Americans. We focused more on personal property and personal possession more than ever before.

To attain this level of material gain, you needed a steady job. And to retain that level after retirement, you needed a pension.

Thus was born the myth of the white picket fence.

It’s All About Happiness

Each generation interpreted happiness differently. And they pursued it in a different way. Does this mean any generation’s dream was better than the last?

Yes, there are always missteps. And no generation remains unscathed by the previous generation’s choices.

But it’s time we realize that we’re no more special than anyone who came before us. So let’s learn from our forefathers (and mothers) and not make the same mistakes. Let’s take what we’ve been given, live the American Dream, and squander nothing.

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