America's social hierarchy is based on the net pay you receive from year to year income, the education you have completed, your occupation, and your social networking connections. We have this developed idea called the, "American Dream." This is a belief that if you work extremely hard and you are dedicated to what you want, then you can achieve success. I personally view America on a three-tier pyramid structure that starts out on the bottom with the lower class, then middle, and at the top stands the upper class. The “American Dream” teaches us that it our social status is based on what we have achieved. This means that in order to be in a certain social group you have to fit the unspoken ideals that are based primarily on your education and career successes. The upper class includes people who are primarily wealthy and have high incomes. They seem to ideally be significantly educated and strong social networks. The middle class is unique because it has two different sections. For example, in the middle class, we have the upper-middle and the working middle. I was born into the working middle class. In order for me to achieve the very “American Dream” I would need to exceed my parents and become someone very successful, making more money than they do. The path I am on now, according to this idea, is leading to failure of achieving the all “American Dream.” I will not make more money than my parents do now, and they work exceptionally. Does this automatically set me up for failure to exceed my own expectations and the expectations of others? I certainly do not think so.
Growing up in the working middle class, I learned that you have to work for what you want and you have to work for what you need. Growing up in the working middle class, I watched my parents work long hours and live paycheck to paycheck. My dad would wake up early to stick me and my sister on the bus to go to school before he would go to work, then stay in aftercare facilities until he would get off work in the afternoon. My mom would spend long hours at a nursing home doing her rounds, then come home and do homework with me at the dinner table. My parents wanted better for me, so they put me in a ton of extracurricular activities and they pushed me academically. My parents fought for me to be in the higher level classes I needed to be in. They would work all day and come home to work as parents. I learned that you can dress classy and still find things in your price range all due to this magical rack in the back corner of the store marked with the glowing letters “CLERANCE.” I learned that nothing is free. I learned that I had to work for the food on the dinner table, the movie ticket I wanted, the dress I saw at the store, the school supplies I had to have. I did chores and I complained every step I took as I vacuumed. Growing up in the working middle class, I learned that you will work and work and work to pay taxes and survive. My parents are working hard to help me pay for my university studies because they make too much money for me to receive more than little to no federal financial aid. The hard truth is that retirement is probably a pipe dream because the social security system in place will be bankrupt by the time they get old enough to draw from it.
Fortunately, I grew up in the working middle class. Yeah you read that right. I am very thankful for the household I grew up in because it instilled a drive inside of me. I did not have it bad at all. Everyone faces tribulations and hardships, and of course it sucked not being able to do certain things. However, I learned from an early age to appreciate my earnings and opportunities. I got a job at thirteen as a referee, making over $200 on weekends. I started to pay my way for social events and activities I wanted. At age fourteen, I worked as a child care worker at my church making minimum wage. I was able to pay my way to go on two local mission trips with my church. At age sixteen, I got a job at the local skate center and I started to contribute to paying for my personal expenses. When I moved for college, I got a job connected to my school and in the spring semester I held that job with a telemarketing job at the local newspaper facility along with my childcare job at home for the weekends. Long story short, I have learned that working is a part of my life. It is a huge part of who I am. I am very thankful for my parents and their example. I wish to work as hard as them one day. I have become very independent from this experience. I do not like taking money from people or people just giving me money. I refuse to accept handouts because I did not earn them. Growing up in the working middle class, I learned that family is important. No matter the day, we sat down as a family for dinner. Weekends were reserved for movie nights. Family vacations were the best vacations because after long hours at work, we get to spend a full vacation together away from home. They are not focused on their jobs while we are away. I have learned to be content with little. Money has always been tight, but my parents were always content in it. Also, when they did have more money they were content with that too which has taught me to be content with more. I learned that my education was important. Even to be in the working middle class, you need an education. I learned that just because your money was tight you still have the chance to be generous and help those who are the least of you. My parents rarely spent their money on themselves. They were either buying my siblings and I stuff or they were helping people in need. In contrast, I also learned that it’s okay to spend your hard earned money on nice things every once in a while. They supported other working middle class people by buying things and putting money in their pockets for their skills and trades. Besides learning to work hard, I learned how to love. Most importantly, growing up in the working middle class I learned that family is more important than the money we made.
Growing up in the working middle class, I was molded into the woman I am today. A woman of character. I am hard working, passionate, dedicated to exceeding my limits, challenging myself daily, and I never quit. People are waiting for me to fail, but growing up in the working middle class has shaped me to keep those against me on their toes.