Education is important. Especially at a young age. It is important to learn how to read. How to write. How to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. All the basic skills that you need to thrive in this modern society.
At a young age, they teach you history as well. They teach you the beauty of the United States. How it became one of the strongest nations to ever grace the Earth. And at a young age, you generally grow up with an optimistic and positive feeling about the country. You grow up with a sense of patriotism, as if everything is all right in this world. This is the greatest nation on Earth for a reason.
That was the lesson that I got upon going to school at a young age. And I was taught an overly rosy picture of the United States. But, as you grow up, you tend to subject yourself to more dissenting opinions. And you realize that this nation isn’t as perfect as you used to deem it out to be.
Yes, it is great. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, at the same time, there are still issues plaguing our nation that we need to resolve. Or at least help alleviate. Racism. Inequality. Poverty. Hunger. Homelessness. Opioids. Moral superiority. All these issues are prevalent in our country. So, like any other nation, it’s flawed. It is not necessarily the greatest nation on Earth.
What I was taught in school was valuable. It did help me grow more attached to this country. It made me want to give back in every little way that I possibly can. To my friends. To my family. To my community. And it made me feel like I was on top of the world.
It did make me feel proud to be an American. To be at the top of the food chain. To be the best there is and the best there ever will be. But I think being an American is more than that. It is also owning up to the inevitable flaws that we have as a nation. It’s about acknowledging that sometimes things aren’t as rosy as they seem to be.
People encounter problems of all kinds. And America is no different. Some people struggle financially. Others may not be in the best health. Some may struggle to find meaning and purpose in the modern age. The problems are endless. And it could be overwhelming at times.
I think the ultimate balancing act is how to navigate that feeling of being in one of the greatest nations on Earth, with the problems that our society brings forth to the light. It’s coming to accept our flaws for what they are. And it’s coming to accept that no country is perfect.
America, just like every other nation, has its benefits and drawbacks. We have a checkered history. We have people that are not well. We have problems just like everywhere else. So, it’s more coming to terms with that imperfection.
On the other hand, it’s okay to feel patriotic. To feel a certain sense of attachment to the country that you grew up in. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, it does give you a sense of identity. Like you belong somewhere. That you have a true place that you can call home. I think that sort of identity is important for external peace of mind. Knowing that there is some place where you are welcomed for who you are.
I remember back when I was doing my international MBA in France, the program was really diverse. There were people from all walks of life. All types of cultures and personalities. It was a true melting pot. And I was labeled an American.
However, at that time, I was struggling a bit with anxiety, and I had a hard time integrating myself in with the other Americans of the group. I struggled a bit socially and felt a lack of identity and belonging within the different groups of the international MBA community. But having said that, I still enjoyed my time as an MBA student in France. It was an eye-opening experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It just goes to show you that identity and perceptions are ever-changing. There is no one sole identity that we can fill up in cookie cutter way for all of eternity. You can’t just say you’re American and that is who you are for the rest of your life. Identities are fluid. What you perceive to be true at a young age may change as you grow older.
And that’s what’s happening to me throughout the course of my existence. While America is still my home and I respect this nation for all its strengths and diversity, I am also aware of some of the problems that America holds to people of different backgrounds. It is not a perfect nation by any stretch of the imagination.
But because of that, I respect it more. I will do my best to help the community in every way that I can – given my own limitations. And I will try to appreciate the beauty of all the cultures and histories that make up this nation that we call The United States of America.