“The American Dream and Our Road to Wellness” By Maria Khaled RD, LD

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So, I love reflecting on my past and what led me to become the person I am today. No easy road for sure and I know everything happens for a reason- even if we do not know for sure what that reason is at the time we are going through something. I love what I considered the care-free days of my youth, where I would roller skate and bike ride hands-free around my neighborhood- feeling free as a bird and enjoying the moments of my childhood.

I also remember my teen years, faced with more challenges, yet I always looked for the silver lining in things and did my best to look at the glass half full. I began to see the world in a more truthful light during these years, realizing that things were not always peaches and cream and adversity can come out of nowhere- even when undeserved and unexpected.  Not that I thought everything was a walk in the park, but I noticed how I was faced with more obstacles than I envisioned at the time and felt there were more injustices than I expected during those years.

My dream as a child was always to be an actress so I remember enjoying when I was in high school and being called “Marilyn” at the time when I dyed my hair blonde. Although, the first time I heard being called Marilyn, I was unsure why or who it was referring to. A close friend in school with me at the time was a big fan of hers and had her pictures on her bedroom wall. I have never been starstruck, to this day, yet admire many in the industry and of course, once I realized I was being called Marilyn by classmates because they thought I resembled “Marilyn Monroe,” I took it as a big compliment being she made her mark in Hollywood as an actress and sex symbol, even until this day many refer to her and her legacy lives on.

Although I did not know much about her, just that she was a sex symbol and famous actress, I remember in a Social Psychology class in high school being asked to do a paper on someone you found of interest. Since at the time, I was repeatedly being called “Marilyn,” I chose to focus on her in a paper and look into her life more deeply. I remember at first thinking her life must have been fairly easy being a movie star and all, but what I found was very surprising and actually, made me grow more of a respect for her as an individual. She actually had a very difficult childhood, living in an orphanage, facing adversity and moving from foster home to foster home.

What I learned is that her biological mother was committed to a mental institution and she never did meet her biological dad. She moved from foster home to foster home and married young to get out of the system and chase after her dreams of becoming an actress. She had many ups and downs, but worked steadily at making connections and did whatever she could to achieve her reality. She befriended agents and eventually got a break in the industry with her first film. Although it would be a long road to stardom, she was well on her way getting her foot in the door and eventually seizing every opportunity that she could to make a mark for herself.

One agent in particular took a strong liking to her and did his best to help her achieve her dreams of real stardom. Even when he became ill and was nearing his last days, he made calls on her behalf and advocated for her to get her big breakthrough. She made the most of her opportunities and did achieve that Hollywood dream. Although, life was not always easy and she went through 3 divorces, domestic abuse, did not achieve her dream of becoming a mother and battled some substance abuse issues, she remained in the industry for a good amount of time, making blockbuster sellouts and capitalizing on her success.

If you know me, you know I love a good story about the underdog. Someone who comes from nothing or very little to make a name or way for themselves- against all odds. So, after learning more about her story, I did develop more of a respect for her knowing the difficulties of her childhood and how much she endured all on her own, still persevering and overcoming obstacles to achieve her dream.

A true “Rags to Riches” story and although her life being cut short at an early age, she did reach an element of stardom that many may only dream of. She is just one example of someone that made a name for themselves from going through “a hard knock life” and rising from the ashes. There are several stories like this and I believe that this tells us that anyone, no matter what background, class, race, caliber, may achieve their dreams if given the right circumstances and an equal playing field, if this is their chosen path.

Although life has changed much since her era and I believe corruption in many organizations is at an all time high now, I still have faith that the “American Dream” is achievable for anyone if we focus on ridding our nation of leaders who are unwilling to allow an equal playing field. Without this, and blacklisting anyone unjustly, our “American Dream,” freedom, democracy and free will is compromised and this then only makes the American Dream achievable for those in power.

This is not freedom or free will. Outcasting, blacklisting, shadowbanning, blackballing and isolating anyone due to their background, origin, religion, race, socioeconomic class, all goes against our freedoms and Constitutional rights and is extremely unjust. We need leaders that are ethical and have integrity as their biggest traits. Without that, we will slowly witness the decline and demise of our society, Constitutional right and freedoms as we know it!

 Believe it and You Will Achieve it!


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