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Mary Vidaurri

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How do you balance living practically, with reaching for your dreams? How much does material gain matter, realistically?

As a teenager, there aren't many people within my age group willing to discuss life’s dilemmas outside of drama unfolding on FB, resulting in mental asphyxiation.
I've got my whole, too brief life, stretched out before me, and the sheer stunningness of my own mortality leads me to question the path my life will lead, and the "real" world impact of my decisions.
I want life and every word to the extent that it's absurd. I want to take every opportunity to travel, and fully experience life, even if it means I don't have much in material wealth. I don't mind hardship, I've lived with it. As long as I have enough for food and healthcare I'm fine. (This plan definitely includes college:)
Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle. A wise choice many would say and well within my grasp.
So I guess, after all that backstory, I want to hear what really matters once you've well advanced through life? Do you wish you'd taken the leap, or treasure the security of your life?
I don't know, I'm only 16, so I'd love to hear any advice, or common regrets.
and I hope this doesn't sound like typical teen angst, straight out of Catcher in the Rye:)


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  • Jul 13 2013: I remember wondering about the life's questions when I was about your age. Let me give some feedback from experience of the 25 to 30 years I gained since.

    But first of all thank you Arkady with these little pearls of wisdom and the very recognizable situations with kids, loved it!

    The American dream is total bullshit for most, an incentive to keep the everyone productive and on the treadmill. The decline of the middle class will make that even more clear. Also stuff is just stuff, it doesn't make you happy, but it sucks up time and money (as Arkady pointed out) If you think of the highlights of your life it never involves stuff but people or achievements (at least for me). The more stuff you've got the less time you have to live your life in any meaningful sense. Stuff also leads to debt, and debt is the end of your independence or to live your life the way you want it.

    However, I see no reason not to invest in your own independence or development. So please do study. But study broadly, try to take in as much as possible, it never hurts do some courses which could be useful in any job.

    Also, go travel. Please do go travel. No tourism trips, just backpacking on a limited budget. That will change your outlook for sure. You will learn about your own culture and yourself. I have travelled for about 2 years all over the world and that is the one thing I never regret.
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      Jul 14 2013: Hi Peter,
      I remember wondering about life's questions when I was young, and I still ponder....apparently most of us have many of the same questions?

      Let me reinforce your feedback from the experience of 60+ years, and I agree with you that Arkady has all kinds of "little pearls of wisdom":>)

      Whatever the "dream" is, it seems to work out better when it is our own. We can take in information from various sources...parents, friends, society in general...sift through the information and form our personal "dream".

      I agree with you that "stuff is just stuff". Unfortunately, your description of the "dream" is very real to some folks. I observe lots of people working long and hard so they can have "stuff", and there is no time to actually enjoy the "stuff". Like you say...the more stuff you've got the less time you have to really live life in a meaningful way.

      I love your advise to "take in as much as possible", and travel seems always to be a wonderful way to open the mind and heart to learn about ourselves, as well as other cultures. I believe life is an exploration.....a wonderful adventure in which we have all kinds of opportunities to learn, grow and evolve:>)
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      Jul 14 2013: Does raking risky initiatives and actions and life decisions count too?
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        Jul 14 2013: In my humble perception Simon, whatever we want to count.....counts.....we have many choices:>)
      • Jul 14 2013: Life is risky Simon. Safest would be to stay in bed all day, but it would be a very boring life. I would never advice anyone such a thing.

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