The American Dream

Afifa Zaheer
5 min readOct 7, 2017

Dreaming is a potion we all take to bridge the gap between the real and surreal. We all have thought of things that have been accused of destroying mankind yet we search of a way to reach out to them. Yes, I am talking about the dream that has been narrated and voiced by so many writers- the dream of living in an exotic land, seeing new things and stepping out of the comfort zone to experience the mesmerizing. But one shall never get oblivious to the thin line between reality and dreaming. It takes only few seconds of dreaming for that line to fade or become blurry.

United States of America, the land of freedom and truth. Why truth? Because this land shows you the real you. No layers of buttering or sugar coating. I moved to America last year, which served as a great challenge not just for me as an individual but a part of a family of six members. It didn’t seem impossible to start our lives from scratch when we received the Visas and made the decision of migrating to a new country. But even with the confidence we had in the new beginning, funnily enough, we did question our decision through out the process of packing and collecting our worldly possessions for the new world. Calls were made to relatives living abroad, asking them how it would be for us there. Fairly enough, all of them warned us of the hardships but we were so encompassed by the charm of America that we didn’t pay any attention to the problems that would hem out after migrating.

So, today I have decided to pen down some myths about living in a foreign country. Because what you see is not always the truth. To entirely know the truth you need to live the truth.

  1. If you belong to a middle class or any class for that reason, you’ll know the yearning to become something on your own and earn a living based on the skills that you polished in college. But you know what happens when you move to a new land with a degree from your homeland? It’s not equivalent to the degrees given out by American Schools. That’s the first blow of reality. You need to accept the fact that you belong to the masses, you have to pull yourself up and start from rock bottom to reach exactly where you were back in your country. Its that moment when all that education seems for nothing.
  2. Yes, America is the land of opportunities but not the kind you had back home. For instance teaching. In Pakistan you might land a job as a teacher if you’re capable of communicating well, understand the ethics of a classroom and know how to represent yourself in the best possible manner. But in America, you need to earn a degree in Early Years of Education to even teach elementary school. Yes! Things are not so simple as you assume them to be. So, all the professions that you had taken for granted back home, come crumbling down in America. Then begins the race of finding “any” job because obviously the landlord will not let you live in his apartment building for free. And most of the times that “any” job is a job at a Grocery Store, McDonalds or any Retailing Based Company.
  3. So, how many of you think of finding a job at a Grocery Store after completing your education in Pakistan? The chances of that are very thin I believe. But here in America, the chances of that are as high as they can get. Everyone steps into the business of Customer Service. And no, this job is no fun. This job requires you to stand up behind a register for 8 hours and deal with customers with a smile on your face. It means you have to reiterate the same sentences over and over till the store closes. Let me clarify something, nobody in America demotivates you for a job like this. You don’t feel ashamed of it but coming from a culture and a country where this job is not considered to be a reputable one you find yourself caught in the middle of something so destructive. And that something, is a phase of self-doubt. A phase where you observe others moving forward with masters and getting jobs related to their field but you are stuck with a job that is not even remotely related to what you did. It becomes hard to accept everything.
  4. Pictures are just one perspective of what’s happening behind the frame. It’s alarming how people review someone’s life through pictures. If someone is putting up a picture, standing in the middle of an empty “American Road” the first thing that would pop in your mind is “Whoa, America looks so beautiful and look at her having all the fun.” For God’s sake, random pictures like these don’t reflect “fun”. Stop assuming about somebody’s life to be easy or full of parties just because they are living in America.
  5. “So, did you explore America and come across celebrities?” I have had people asking me this question for as long as I can remember now. No, I haven’t explored America like they show in the movies. I migrated as a resident, which means I came here to earn a living, settle down and pay my dues. I work throughout the week to have enough to pay my rent, bills, car insurance, medical insurance and cover other utility expenses. I don’t earn to get myself a ticket to Florida or California. Remember, when you start your life in a new country, you do things that you “have” to do long before you can begin to do what you “want” to do. There’s a long path that you are required to walk before you can go out and travel the world.
  6. Living in America doesn’t mean you are rolling around in Dollar Bills. Whatever you earn, gets taken away in the form of prior mentioned expenses. You realize that your wage is directly proportional to your expenses. The more you earn, the more taxes you pay. Little things like car insurance, fuel’s cost, utility bills, clothing and food take up more than half of your salary. So no, America is not a factory that is giving out dollar bills to its citizens. Just like Newton said, for every action there is an equal reaction.
  7. No folks, there is no room for kidding when it comes to Education in America. Education is costly here, its double of what you earn throughout the year. And so in light of these circumstances, you end up taking a loan. That’s a dangerous route but if you are ready to pay a certain amount towards the coverage of your loans for the rest of your life then you’re good to take this route. Oh boy, moments like these make you miss your Homeland more than you can imagine.
  8. Lastly, you are what you are. You were born a Pakistani and no matter how many years you spend in America your heart will crave to go back to those streets. To those moments of sitting down in a chair of a cafe with your friends and gossiping about stupid things. In America, nobody has time to sit down and sip tea. Time is money and money is time. Everyone’s time is dedicated to themselves. Friendships come in the shape of colleagues who help you out at work but they have no time to hangout with you because sadly they are caught up in the race of working as well.



Afifa Zaheer

Writer | Poetess | Financial Consultant. A South-Asian Woman Mastering the Art of Metamorphosis as an Immigrant.