The American Dream is an Illusion

THE TRUE TRUE with Pattie Martins
5 min readOct 19, 2020


Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

I have wanted to be an actress since I was 12 years old and I pursued that dream. I knew that I wanted to have fun in my adult life and feel special and celebrated. However after living in Los Angeles I understood that being special isn’t a dream worth having and that being rich and famous isn’t a dream worth having. It all felt like fool’s gold. It’s hard for me to admit this because within the acting industry it’s going to sound like I’ve given up. I still act and tell stories in every way shape and form. What has changed is something that was inherently naive about my thought process. When I travelled to La La Land, I had just quit a job teaching acting in Paris and visited LA with the intention of pitching my film and figuring out who my tribe was in America. I was aware that most of the dreams that other people have when they go to Hollywood were the same as mine and I did also want to explore that on an anthropological level. What did it mean that all of these people were somewhat summoned to this city. So many of us felt the call to go there and follow our dreams. Why is it that we have this fascination for wanting to be rich and famous?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

After being in Los Angeles for five months, in spite of my visa expiring, which consequently means I’m not allowed back in the country for a few years but to hell with it! I had things that I wanted to figure out on a soul level and it took the time that it took. Back to my story, there was a lot of walking around searching to be inspired and eventually I met some performing artists who became my friends. I did some open mic nights and I performed and sang there. Afterwards I mingled with the actors and musicians and could see where this generations’ aspirations were founded. It was very much the same thing we often hear about. They thrived to look beautiful and thin and to be charming and get better and better at their craft, to create professional connections and become somewhat known in your field. Then become really famous and the World is your oyster! Everyone respects you, everyone wants to work with you and you’re very, very wealthy and internationally considered a Winner!

As a European, I was always aware that this concept of the American dream wasn’t completely factual. It sounded more like a wish or a mantra from a Disney film script that declares how “all your dreams come true if you follow your heart”. But is your dream only considered to come true when everyone gathers in a crowd and claps at your achievement?

I felt cheated because I had been following something that I had actually never wanted! I thought it was more real but instead it was a bunch of smokes and mirrors. I thought that the actors and actresses were more cultured, strong, heroic and courageous but as it turns out they weren’t. Quite the opposite in fact, I’m sorry to say. It was just the stories and myths that gave me a sense of wonder and inspiration. I came back to Europe with the knowledge that storytelling can really inspire us and that sharing our personal stories and being our real selves as often as possible is extremely rare and therefore valuable. It’s about being those characters from the Hollywood movies; the person that overcomes, the person that is courageous, that defends and is just and kind. That’s what was really inspiring to me. I was disappointed to understand that the people playing the characters and the people taking part in most of the filming process were nowhere near the heroes that I needed them to be.

I have become more accepting of myself now that I’ve let go of that illusion. The dangerous illusion that money and fame give you back something that’s missing. The illusion that everyone needs to celebrate me and applaud me and that I need to be special and stand out. I just need to tell my stories honestly, it’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m trying to be sincere and authentic and real and I say: to hell with Hollywood! I know that this is a big statement but whereas they have inspired me; they’ve also just filled my head with a lot of crap, a lot of nuisance and illusions from a young age. From the moment I was able to start watching tv I was sold the American Dream. I’m glad that I got to see the delusions first hand and make up my own opinion about it because I don’t like illusions. I prefer truth. I am grateful for this rude awakening though. I returned with a bigger sense of truth about myself. I was able to chuck away the old dream of making it as an actress as the pinnacle of my self-worth and realize that I don’t need anything that Hollywood tells me I need in order to be happy and to be of service. As George Carling famously said: “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Success is much simpler than Hollywood culture leads us to believe. And… it doesn’t require me whitening my teeth! I can just be myself authentically and that’s success. Authenticity isn’t exactly Hollywood’s forte. I’m happy to say I do not wish to become a celebrated and famous Hollywood socialite celebrity anymore.

That’s one of the things that really changed me. Seeing first-hand how the people in the movies and in the whole entertainment industry were actually made to seem bigger in my mind because the stories from their movies had resonated with me. I saw myself in the hero’s character and wanted to be that hero. I could be brave as a person. I could be a defender of justice. I could be strong, emotional, honest and unafraid. I can’t say this about most of the people in the entertainment business. So, I’m glad to be on the other side now. I’m a survivor of the Hollywood illusion of the American dream of becoming demigods such as the Kardashians and all the likes. What a hoax! Become rich and famous and suddenly life makes sense. Become a billionaire and all of a sudden, you’ll be good looking you will have a good-looking spouse and you will be accepted and everything will make sense malarkey. Let’s just open our eyes, take a good look around at what we have and who we have and celebrate that, shall we?

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash



THE TRUE TRUE with Pattie Martins

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