It’s almost 2 am. I’m sitting on my little balcony here in Kansas City just thinking. About my life, the future, and a million other things. Some are significant: should I go back and get my MBA? Some are not: what should I do this weekend? But they all boil down to one thing: Am I living my life right?

Honestly, I never really thought about the direction my life was moving until about a year ago. On paper, everything was “right”. I was checking off all of the boxes on what I assumed was the path I was supposed to follow. I kept my nose to the grindstone in high school so that I could get a big scholarship for college. After that, I burned the midnight oil in college, preparing myself to get a good job out in the real world. I settled into a relationship even though it felt too safe and too monotonous . I did all these things because that was what I was supposed to do. It’s what I thought I needed to have a good and happy life. To live the American Dream.

Let’s all take a second to guess how that’s going for me.

Everyone has their own version of the American Dream, but the majority of them go something like this: high school, college, entry-level job, marriage, promotion, house, kids, and so on working our way up in this world. They follow this arbitrary timeline; a timeline that we feel immense pressure to meet. Married by 25. Rewarding career by 28. Kids by 30. We fall into this trap, this conspiracy theory, that if we don’t achieve these goals in a certain time frame, we are somehow less successful than our peers.

This feeling of inferiority is only strengthened in today’s digital age, where others’ seemingly perfect lives are laid out on facebook, and twitter, and instagram, and whatever the new social media platform of the month is. I can literally spend hours examining the details of friends’ and acquaintances’ lives. Comparing their impeccably filtered vacation photo to the frazzled person I see in the morning when I wake up 20 minutes late. Comparing their carefully crafted, witty tweets to the nonsensical babble (aka word vomit) that I always seem to spew at the most inopportune times.

But enough is enough. Today I am officially giving up on the American Dream. I’ve spent the last year desperately clinging to it, even when I knew that I wasn’t getting any sense of fulfillment out of it. I am scared of giving it up, thus being seen as a failure in today’s society. But starting now, I am refusing to live my life according to what others expect from me, from what society seems to demand from me. These are my vows, not just to myself, but to you and everyone else who might come across this blog of mine.

I vow to keep it real. To talk about the good and the bad. To not be afraid to show my less-than-perfect self to the world.

I vow to take it one day at a time. To not over think my decisions. To follow my gut.

I vow to try new things. To keep an open mind. To trust those around me.

I vow to chase my dreams. To live my life. To find the things that make me truly happy.

“You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” – Chris Guillebeau

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