Self-Reliance: This I Believe

Daniel - Glen Carbon, Illinois
Entered on February 24, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

The American dream: many people know the phrase but few people know what it is. The American dream is the ability to improve one’s status in life through hard work and to be able to obtain what they desire. Over time the majority of Americans have come to see the American dream as something they are owed and do not feel that they should have to work for it. This is where I differ from the Americans who feel that way. I believe that every American should obtain the American dream through self-reliance.

I made the effort to pay for college through military service. Like many students I lacked the money to pay for college, so I joined the military. The military offered impressive benefits that were not rivaled by any other organization. After serving I earned more than just money for college. I earned the respect of my family and friends and great job experience. I used the military as a springboard to help me become a success.

My father taught me to be self sufficient with money. One of the goals that he passed down to me is to not be dependent on anything or anyone for money. To achieve this goal he taught me to separate wants from needs. As my father put it, “Needs are things you will die without while wants are things that you can go without.” We planned out my budget for college by listing the things that I wanted and then listing them by priority. Necessities like rent topped the list, followed by luxuries like internet. I found that I would have several hundred dollars left over each month and began to dream of how to spend this money. I was awakened when he asked me “Now, what happens if you lose your job? What happens if you get declined for student loans? What happens if tuition costs rise?” Then he said, “Take a little of that money for fun but save the rest.” It turns out that what he said was good advice. I didn’t get a job quickly and the cost of attending school was higher than I expected, but since I followed his advice I was able to handle both situations.

I believe every American who wishes to obtain the American dream should do so through self-reliance. A lot of people may feel that this is impossible, but they need to search for a way and then follow through. In my case I served in the military during a time of war. Because of the way I took responsibility for my life I am well on my way to obtaining the American Dream.