Remove the price tag on success

It’s time we realized that the tirelessly marketed idea of ‘living your dreams’ attaches a hefty price tag to our idea of success. 

In the saturated market of millennial-aimed marketing, there’s an abundance of advice for today’s youth to quit our jobs and follow our dreams. While roaming social media, I often stumble upon motivational graphics with curly calligraphy telling me to do what I love and love what I do.

For example, a girl I follow on Instagram recently left her day job to pursue fashion design. 

Her feed is full of photographs of the New York City skyline accompanied by a caption explaining how we should drop everything while we’re still young and carefree. 

There’s nothing wrong with travelling the world or pursuing a career with happiness, rather than finances, in mind — but what about the large percentage of us who just can’t afford it? 

Many of us have come to believe that pursuing financially lofty dreams as careers or travelling the world to find ourselves are moral imperatives rather than very expensive options.  

I can’t afford those things. I’m consciously gearing myself towards a career that is financially sound, while pursuing my creative dream in the incidental breaks in between. 

Instead of cashing in my savings to travel the world after graduation, I’ll be working to pay my own way through grad school. There’s no shame in that. 

This kind of rhetoric reproduces the idea that youth who don’t have solid financial nets are missing out on the ingredients for success and should feel guilty for that. 

As a child of immigrants for whom a financial fallback doesn’t exist, I see the constant speeches about following your dream as condescending. 

I see them as a way of defining success as something only accessible to those with money, immediately excluding those who can’t afford to have the necessary experiences.

At the end of the day, the 20-something-year-old who works two jobs to make it through school is no less accomplished than the one who spent the money to travel around the world and add an extra degree to their roster. 

It’s important for us as a generation of financially struggling youth — as well as a generation that is hopefully sensitive to the needs of diverse minorities — to realize that this rhetoric caters to the richest of us. It does little to help the rest.

Ramna is The Journal’s Editorials Editor. She’s a third-year English major. 

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