When Middle America is a Victory
Are you a Thriver or a Straggler?
We grew up thinking we can be anything we want to be in life. And for the most part, that was true as long as you didn’t make your goals too lofty. We’re talking silly dreams like professional athletes, movie stars, or one of those other pipe dream professions that are reserved for individuals who will hit the societal lottery. Either way, even when we realized that the “normal” professions that were within our reach created a safe path for a career, I think it's safe to say that most of us were comforted knowing that at the very least, it offered financial stability. Enough to raise a family, buy a nice house, and retire comfortably at an early age. Very quickly though, we’re coming to find that even the safe path creates no guarantee of what we were always expecting to be a given. And that is the status of the Middle Class of America.
Now instead of a right of passage, Middle America feels like a victory in and of itself. There are varying degrees of the Middle Class. Ultimately, this makes it that much more confusing. Pew Research gives a range of annual income between $46,960 per year and $140,900 accounting for Middle Class Americans. Take stock of that. Yes, someone making almost $100K more per year falls into the same classification as their counterpart on the other end of the income spectrum. We’ve basically labeled anyone not wealthy or not in complete poverty in America as the New Middle Class. So you might be asking yourself, why?
Perception is Reality
Well I have a theory...Because perception is reality. I think therefore I am. If you’re provided with the data that reinforces the narrative that $46,000 per year is middle class then you feel as though you’ve achieved something. Why concern yourself with the constant battles that exist in the Struggle State? That’s for those pathetic losers who make $40,000 per year to worry about. Sure, anything that helps you sleep better at night.
Because in reality, even a household making $100K per year with 2 adults and the average 2 kids per family, will barely make enough to cover all of the following: pay the mortgage, save for a rainy day, save for retirement, save for college, and invest wisely enough to put themselves beyond the classification of Middle and transition to the next tier of what’s been classified as “Thrivers”.
I think there was a time when we all had hopes of becoming Thrivers in this great Nation but as the wealth gap widens and “stuff” gets cheaper, we find solace in the fact that we can be comfortable in the moment without worrying about what the future may have in store for us. This mode of thought becomes dangerous when left in idle hands.
Happiness is Success but is our Happiness Real?
Is this what our parents and previous generations wanted for us? They might say as long as you’re happy then the answer is yes, why wouldn’t that be what we want? Our happiness has come in the form of 2 day shipping from Amazon and click from strangers liking our posts. It’s artificial and temporary but it has impacted the way our society operates. We strive for less because we get our dopamine fix from a reality that doesn’t exist. I can assure you there is still a group of people who want more out of life and are not satisfied with being stuck in the broad definition of what is the Middle.
The Struggle is Real but so are the results. There is no guarantee that the moves you make today will get you out of what we have coined as The Struggle State, but I respect the effort and the ability to do more than what your peers do. Think differently. Act differently. Create Social Mobility for yourself and your family even when it feels impossible. The journey is the fun part.
Complacency and acceptance of your situation, if that’s the Victory in life, if you don’t think there is more out there for you then maybe the Middle is for you. But I’ll be over here with the Thrivers, and there’s always room for more...
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