The American Dream Is a Lie by Jessica Silder

My mother is schizophrenic and bipolar, and I grew up rather poor. I know what it is like to live with an unperfect childhood. The illnesses lead to delusions, hallucinations, and impulsivity. My life was a blur with pain with a sprinkling of happiness whenever my mother got in control of her illnesses. My ears bled with the screaming and fighting with her accusing me of things I never did. She overshared her struggles, so I became the parent instead of her. She stole the money I could get myself whenever I was a teenager because she could not take care of herself. It took me a while to recognize the abuse and that this was not fair to me. I recently moved out at eighteen to live with my boyfriend and cut off my mother for good.

Not everyone can get up and leave when they are in an agonizing circumstance. I realized if the people around me didn’t believe me about the abuse, I would have been homeless or stuck in my abusive situation. When someone does not have a home, they don’t look presentable for a job. They don’t have the clothes that a job may require. They also do not have transportation as a homeless person does not have an address to get a driving license. How can someone find a job if they cannot commute for the job? So many things systemically oppress those that are poor or are mentally ill.

At the same time, I could not imagine having the money to go to college if I had not have left. I could use only my taxes instead of going off my parent’s income. There are so many instances where I could not have had my dream job of becoming a therapist, but I slipped by with only luck to my name.

It reminds me how luck is more involved in the American system than skill. So many are in these sorts of situations or in a job that abuses them and does not allow them to climb the ladder of the economy. The propaganda blasts in the news that people do not want to work when they ignore how successful businesses are when they pay a living wage. Those who have lived a decent life do not realize that some people do not have the circumstances to be able to work to better their lives and are in a position where luck was a determinator between success and failure; It is hard to hear daily.

People want to work, just not for a system that makes it so that luck and privilege are valued more than skill. With the way I grew up, I know the reality of America. Luck matters more than hard work.

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