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The Definition of American Dream for Immigrants

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Less than 20% of all Americans say they are not living the society’s idea of the American Dream. While some may say the American Dream is about having a house and financial stability, it means so much more. Since Americans have this one track mindset about this huge topic, they don’t focus on the major topics many immigrants face like having a limit on how many children you can have, what religion you can express, or even having the ability to choose who you marry.

With my family originating from Spain and Mexico, my family grew up in their own type of Mexican “traditions,' this meant that my great-grandma grew up with what her family thought was the best thing for her. When she was only 18 she was forced into an arranged marriage with a man who was a total stranger. As the wedding date approached, the feeling of fear and anxiety raced through her; she didn’t feel comfortable around this man, it was a total guessing game on how he would react to certain things or if he wanted to go along with this arrangement, to begin with. She had no choice but to go along with the marriage to avoid the chances of being disowned by her family. The next couple of months, they spent getting used to each other, but only 2 months later, she was pregnant with my grandma. With my grandmother on the way, this meant that my great-grandmother had to make some adjustments. Of course, getting used to change takes a while, so she didn’t fully get comfortable until she gave birth to her third child. With having to go through everything, she made a promise that would last for many generations after.

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After my great-grandmother had all of her children, the promise she made to was, “once her daughters get old enough, no matter what her family says, they’ll be able to choose who they want to marry”. She told herself that they’ll never have to go through what she went through, even if it means being dishonored from her family because being able to marry whoever you want to is the definition of the American Dream. After learning the history of my family, it had me wondering, “what would happen if my great-grandmother forced my grandmother into an arranged marriage?”, “How would my life be like or would I even be alive?”, all of these questions made me realize how lucky I am that my great-grandmother made a promise to herself all those years ago. The idea of being forced into a marriage with someone you don’t even know didn’t cross my mind and doesn’t cross most people’s minds until they learn about how it is still happening to this day. If it wasn’t for my great-grandmother, then in a year from now I would be married and I don’t know how to process that idea. Many countries have their ideas of what the “normal” is, but what I can say is that my family’s idea of “normal” has changed for the better thanks to my great-grandmother.

To conclude, with the assumptions of the American Dream being, owning a house and having financial stability, the tiny things like choosing who you marry get unnoticed even though it is a huge thing.  

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