Something I've been thinking about lately is the notion of ambition -- that is, What is ambition? What does it mean to have it? When we deem someone is "ambitious," what is particularly striking about her (or him) in her character?
Now, I'm not claiming that my definition of ambition is complete, nor do I claim that it is the most conclusive, accurate, and/or encompassing one. As I've been considering ambition, though, these aspects have stood out:
Ambition is an internal force.
Whether you believe it's God-given or self-grown, I've come to find that ambition is a motivation and pressure that comes from within oneself. It's not externally motivated, about how others perceive you or relate to you, nor is such external motivation sustainable. Rather, ambition is an intrinsic component of passion and it comes from your guts, your heart. Ambition flows out of you as you pursue work that inspires you and it continues to captivate you -- mind, body, and soul -- as you delve deeper and deeper. For some, this ambition may result from pursuing business ventures and solving problems, others, providing quality medical attention to those in need. For me, it's about understanding our social world and working to impact it positively through the sharing, challenging, and expanding of ideas.
Ambition may fluctuate but, in the end, it overcomes trials.
In our risk-averse society, where, if you're like me, I can calculate my every move, and can draft, draft, draft what I want to say in a text message, email, or blog post (hah!) before I ever send it (if I ever do), I wonder if I've conditioned myself to be more risk-averse in my everyday life, since ICTs allows me more and more to operate under an illusion of control, of being able to calculate what next steps I will or will not take in my everyday communication, relationships, and life. A recovering perfectionist, I've had to learn to risk and fail -- and that it's okay to fail. Only then can I truly learn what my ambitions and passions are, and pursue them, in the midst of such obstacles. Getting rejected last year from all the PhD programs to which I applied may have been disconcerting at the time but, in the end, I am more ambitious and more determined because of it.
Now I'm not saying that I'm the most ambitious person out there, but I can say that my ambition has immensely increased, as I've been around ambitious individuals and have been challenged to be more bold, be more daring in my dreams. Additionally, my colleagues and mentors have helped me become a better scholar, a more engaged citizen, and, ultimately, a more conscious and joyful being, as I have pursued my ambitions and worked through any barriers to achieving my goals. I'm better for it and I have ambitious, supportive individuals around me (and back home) to thank for it. (If you're one of those beloved family members, mentors, or friends -- thank you for being in this journey with me. I don't know where I'd be without you!)
What about you? What do you think? What is ambition to you? (Comment below!)
[As a personal update, since going home for Christmas, I've returned to London for my second term of classes. It's definitely cold here but bearable, when I've got the right coats. In fact, I walked home today because the Tube and buses were so crowded, and I didn't feel my Southern California soul desperately crying out for warmth during the 40-minute stroll. Yep, feeling more and more like a true Londoner everyday...
Also, I'm starting to hear back from PhD programs. It looks to be quite a full few months ahead, in terms of interviews, visits to these universities, and decisions -- all the while finishing my classes and dissertation at LSE. Needless to say, I'll be going somewhere next year and I'm excited to see how this all unfolds!]
Until next time!