Being Ambitious: Virtue or Vice?
They say that a person without ambition is like a boat without a rudder. But perhaps, using a boat analogy is not the best way to describe it. Maybe, there are people out there who do not think their life needs to be steered in one particular direction. For them, ambition is like holding a bird in a cage.
Ambition is one of the few personal qualities that are confusingly ambiguous. While generally acknowledged as a necessary prerequisite for achieving success, too much of unconcealed ambition is seen as a negative trait.
In order to advance in life, a person needs to have a strong desire to achieve. Ambition is that desire behind achievements. Being ambitious does not necessarily mean climbing to the top. Each person has their own definition of success. While someone maybe perfectly content with being a Wall Street mogul, another may find happiness in doing social work for underprivileged children in some remote village in Rwanda.
However, being successful does not necessarily mean being happy. Ambition may drive one to achieve prestigious education and corporate success, but these things may not necessarily keep a person content in the long run. This might be because a lot of ambitious folks tend to be perfectionists or they strive to do better than they have achieved. But then again, in order to earn a living, one needs a bit of ambition. While it is true that money cannot buy happiness, financial stability does not cause one misery either.
Enough has been said and written about finding passion and doing what you love to do. What about those who have no clue what to do with their lives? The ones who cannot seem to find satisfaction in one particular profession? Firstly, let’s talk about academic prowess. Is it important to get good grades in order to establish a career and achieve success? To some extent, it is. However, doing well in school does not essentially bring success. Hard work and sincerity can take one far in life. When I was having a nervous breakdown during my A’ Levels, my mom told me one of the most profound things that stuck with me to date: ‘You not getting an A won’t be the end of the world.’ Hence, despite your efforts, if you find yourself struggling with making academic progress, please know that you are not alone in that. You just have to find something that you are good at.
Secondly, let’s talk about those who are seemingly ‘lost’. Those who are wandering aimlessly, with no goals set in perspective. It is okay to live life in the now. Life is not a destination, it’s a journey. Some people may take a decade to find their true calling and some never do. Perhaps, you belong to the latter group. Do you really see yourself chained to a desk and working a 9-5 job? If not, then maybe it is a good thing you didn’t go down that path. Maybe you are meant to break the monotonous routine that shapes our daily lives and instead let your spontaneous nature dictate how your life should be.
There is no ‘right’ time for someone to figure out their life’s ambition. It varies from person to person. I once read this comic where a young girl was sent to football practice and her coach would always get mad at her because she was terrible at it. Eventually, she started mimicking her coach’s angry expressions. That’s when she realised she was good at stand-up comedy.
It is better to involve in as many things as you can so you really know what suits you most. Extracurricular activities help fresh graduates out of school. This not only helps university applications abroad, but it gives one the opportunity to discover their passion. It is even okay for a university student to be undecided about the major they should follow. Every mind does not function the same way just as every person does not have the same opinion about everything.
It is helpful for children to explore multiple hobbies. Since every person is not born to do the same thing, they should be exposed to all the world’s activities from an early age so they can choose their career. As we get older, we need to keep an open mind about our development as an individual. We need some flexibility in setting our own path. It is perfectly fine to let go of dreams that do not make sense. At the same time, it is equally important to have dreams in the first place. What makes us happy changes over time. Part of finding happiness is letting go of others’ expectations of us, and figuring it out for ourselves.