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American Dollars and Modern Day Shackles

Recently, I’ve been entering the world of the “Big Boy.” Corporate America has welcomed me into its’ arms clad with files, documents, spreadsheets, suitcases, and stark fluorescent lighting. While embracing my first job, I had been told by a mentor not to become a slave to the American dollar. Although it was a statement said in pure jest, it wasn’t until recently that I thought of that statement and how fast I am running to the waters of the coast.

Racing the plains of my youth, I’m feeling freedom leave my body in beads of sweat on my face. I’m all too ready to drop unprofitable dreams at my feet in order to lighten my weight and get me there even one second faster. I’m anxious to be seen as a prospective captive and shackled at my hands and feet, all in the name of the American dollar.

Do I see work as a slave trade? No, because of course we all have the option to leave our careers/jobs at any time. What I am referencing is the time in which your youthful essence and naivety is replaced by an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and “TGIF”’s are your only claim to freedom. No longer do you lay in the sun, only concerned about when your friend gets back with daiquiris. You slowly coax yourself into the maturity that Peter Pan so despised. The American dollar has taken me captive, and I’ve let it, with no resistance and no argument. Am I ashamed? No.

For me to be free from the grips of poverty and debt, when I’ve seen it affect so many around me, leaves me not an ounce of shame in my system. Why go into engineering when you love singing? Why go to medical school when you love painting? Because we think the potential salary that will keep us in the downtown apartment, will be more worth our time than the possibility of the miniscule return we COULD get from investing in our passions. But isn’t that the case?

One thing I’ve noticed is that people who come into college from wealthier backgrounds have so much more ability to let their passions guide them into their areas of study, whereas people of opposite backgrounds are somewhat forced into the areas with higher likelihood of profit and monetary success. That’s what I did.

Leaving high school, I was told by a dance professor at the University of Arizona that if I so chose, I could come to Arizona and go to school on full ride for dancing. When I first heard it, of course I was all ready to take the opportunity to pursue an art I was apparently good at. Soon after, reality sunk it’s fingernails back into my skin, in an effort to remind me that it was never going to leave my side. I turned down my offer, for the possibility of attending LSU in the fall. What I knew then was that a guaranteed opportunity to be a dancer was sadly unequal to a possibility to attain a degree from LSU.

Why are so many looked down upon for deferring dreams in the name of the dollar? Poverty has had a hold on too many people that I love for me to say that I would selfishly not take my opportunity to make their lives easier. If it meant I never danced again or even took another picture, I would make sure that my mom had every and any thing she desired for an eternity.

My goal is to return even a little bit of the love she has shown me, and sacrifice is the name of the game. I’m willing and eager to sacrifice my youth for a dollar, if it means she never has to know the feeling of stress again.

People love to say that money can’t buy you happiness, but I whole-heartedly disagree. Without money, society puts you in a box that you can’t escape. Where do you go and what do you do with no money? I’ve seen it lead people to debt, stress, disappointment, and many other things I don’t care to be led to…

I like to think I’ll find a way to balance passion and paycheck, but until then, I’m content with knowing I’ll come out of college with my head above, and not beneath, the water. This slavery is laced with freedom…

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Classic silhouette in Paddington.
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