What's so special about being American? What did we do to deserve all this recognition? Why does everyone want to be something American, yet hate Americans at the same time?
We all learn about this so-called 'American Dream' and it's supposed to inspire us, to tell us that even if our parents are Cuban refugees fishing off the coast of Florida to pay for our school uniforms, we can still get straight A's and a full ride to Duke University to play tennis, graduate with a degree in International Business, and become the next CEO of Coca-Cola. And in theory, I guess that all works out. But it's not necessarily unique anymore. Most modern, developed countries can claim the same today.
You can ask me to go to the magazine vendor's any day of the week in any city in Germany and I can promise you with absolute certainty that I will find at least one magazine and newspaper headline that involves America. And more often than not, it's negative. And I'm sure it's not only Germany. Ask any exchange student, they will probably say the same thing about their host country. Why do they dislike us? Or what is maybe a more important question - why and how do we attract such negative attention? Why is it so interesting to the foreign reader? If I go to the mall, I will see American flag pants, American flag purses, American flag scarves, even American flag silverware. If I turn on the radio, chances are the song playing is sung by an American artist. Why? Why are we everywhere?
We just somehow don't fit in. Why is that? And why does everyone care?
One of our stereotypes as Americans is that we think we are the best, and that we have a right to everything. I mean, that's not entirely true. But think about our name for a second:
The United States of America.
When I call myself an American, that makes absolutely no sense. Technically, any piece of land spanning from the most northern tip of Canada to the most southern point of Chile is in America. And most of these countries have states that are, in fact, united. So this name makes us sound like we're the only country in the Americas. And that is so stupid. But what else would we call it? What else would I call myself?**
I mean, we're just one big salad bowl (shout out to pointless political correctness) of an ambiguous oxymoron. And I'm sitting here at my desk super late on a Friday night, and I just realized... I think this is why I was sent here. Here, no one cares that I'm the daughter of Bill and Kate, that I can't decide whether my favorite color is blue or orange, or that my dog has a middle name. They want to know where I come from, what kind of accent I have, why I'm here. I am an American, and it's a huge part of my identity. And to have others accept me as I am, I need to accept myself. To accept myself, I need to know who I am. And to know who I am, I need to iron out what being an American is. So, once I answer why we are so special, I think I'll be able to complete my 'mission', so to say. By understanding, we can be understood.
**I propose, we all change our country name to Washington. The United States of Washington. We'd just have to change Washington State's name (how about to a name of one of their biggest Native-American tribes?). Washington DC fits, just because it's the capital. We'd all then be Washingtonians and that sounds so much cooler. Plus, he is widely considered the greatest president and he was the first who helped create the nation, so we owe him a lot.