Day 236: The American Dream Outside of America

Today I had lunch with a friend & colleague of mine (when I’m not on Pappa Leave, we work together).  As we talked, I told him the big news that we bought a house, and take possession of it on Monday!  This is a big deal because we have been looking for a long time for the right balance between romantic and practical, affordable, but with the right location for us.  As we already own an apartment in Stockholm, this house is a safe haven for us when we want to get away from the city life, and it is in the home town of my wife, and where many of her family live today.

Upon hearing the news, my friend said, “congratulations, man!  Did you ever think 10 years ago that you would have a house and an apartment in Sweden, and that you would live, work, and have a family here?”  I didn’t have to think long to say, “nope!”  As I got thinking about it later in the day, there is something that really sunk in for me.  What is happening with the job and the house and the family is what people would call the “American Dream” – but it’s happening everywhere else except for in America.

That was funny to me until I realized it very genuinely is the American Dream.  Basically the idea is that you have the right to work hard and get ahead, and to do so while you have a family (read a more extended version here).

Most people think that the American Dream involves being in America and doing these things.  In fact, millions of people have moved to America because of that ethos.  But today it came to me that the American Dream is more of a mindset that is uniquely American, than it is about the opportunities in the country itself.  As a mindset, it does not matter where you “do” life – what matters is that you are pursuing those things, through the work ethic that is at the core of it (hard work is a necessary precursor to success in the American Dream).

As I sit here typing this, I have the little guy sleeping at my side.  It’s crazy to think that no, 10 years ago I never dreamed that I would have a life in Sweden.  No, I never dreamed I would be married to my wife, and that we would have a child.  The house that we are buying will be a great place to make those memories throughout the childhood of our son, and it seems to me that giving a nice childhood to our son is a universal dream, not just an American one.

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