The drive, but no destination
Nominated by Bronwen Rees
The thing is, I know I want to make something of myself and work hard doing so; but as what, I don’t know. I have ambition, but that ambition is not defined.
I am driven. I was always trying my best and striving for As and A*s and House Points throughout primary and secondary school – and then, at University, 2:1s, Firsts, and Distinctions. I knew, even at a young age, that I wanted to get somewhere. I wanted a Big Life; one that was full of achievements large and little. I wanted to do my best in whatever I did; to feel satisfied, and motivated and loved by others for my brain, or my writing, or whatever it was that I would be honing and growing and working on. Things have not changed. You might say I have ambition; a comment at which I will cringe and deny, even though it probably is the right word. I don’t feel confident or talented or bold enough for it, but ambition is what it most likely is. Ambition: a word associated with high-fliers, cut-throat entrepreneurs and celebrities. People who won’t stop until they have achieved a goal they started aiming for five/ten/twenty years ago. But what if you have ambition, but not AN ambition? At 28, I still cannot tell you what I want to be when I grow up. It changes on practically an annual basis, depending on what my passions are at that specific time. In 1998, I longed to be a vet. In 2008, I toyed with the idea of being a teacher. Now, in 2018, I am trying my hand at being a poet, of sorts. Who knows what I’ll be in 2028. A mother, perhaps, a journalist, or maybe a freelancer. The thing is, I know I want to make something of myself and work hard doing so; but as what, I don’t know. I have ambition, but that ambition is not defined. According to dear old society – or other people, or the media – it seems you either have a well thought-out, specific goal in life...or you don’t, and just sort of float from day to day. This doesn’t seem quite right to me. Like most things in life, there’s a spectrum here; a grey area that can morph and change depending on your circumstances, mental health, confidence, and age.
Having ambition is not the same as having an ambition, and it is perfectly ok to feel the drive without a destination.
Ambition is the same as anything else; your sexuality, your political opinions; your appetite. It can wane, or it can change, or it can remain exactly the same for your entire life. Furthermore, ambition doesn't have to be a scary word. Ambition doesn’t mean conquering the world, being famous, earning lots of money or buying a second home in Crete. It is not the Beyonce or Kanye of the word world. I’d say it’s more down-to-earth, more approachable; like an artist or actor who creates amazing work but keeps themselves to themselves, and out of the gossip columns; like Emma Watson, or Tom Hanks. Ambition can be aiming to create a family unit you never had growing up; earning enough money to rent a nice flat alone; having the child you so desperately ache for through any means necessary; learning to cook pasta really well from scratch; working out what you want in bed; learning Japanese; living in good health. Ambition is short term and long term. It is a big, stony, monolithic force of nature and an ember with long-term burning potential. It is spontaneous and everlasting. It is as powerful as a hurricane that’s been given your father’s name, and as subtle as an autumn-day breeze that softly shakes ginger leaves from trees. Ambition is a journey without an end, and it is a destination without a planned route. Having ambition is not the same as having an ambition, and it is perfectly ok to feel the drive without a destination.
I haven’t got a goal; a defined ambition, which could be both a mistake and a blessing.
For me, perhaps due to my own ill-defined ambition, I’ll probably never feel satisfied, because I don’t have an end goal. I’ll probably just keep on going, like a Foucault pendulum, in different directions with varying force, until I die or give up – whichever comes first. “You must be working on your first novel!” people claim when I tell them I am a writer. “You want to get published, yes?” You might say that; but published where, I don’t know, and how, I’m not sure. A novel, a poetry collection, a memoir, a column in a favourite magazine? Yes, to all...and no. Maybe I won’t ever be ‘published’ officially. Maybe I will choose to perform my pieces or keep my work to myself. Maybe I will give up on writing altogether, or choose to edit other people’s words. Maybe I won’t have the chance to get to that stage. Maybe I just really want to go into Marketing. Maybe I’ll turn to fine art next. For now, I just want to be good with words, and for other people to enjoy the ones I share. I haven’t got a goal; a defined ambition, which could be both a mistake and a blessing. Perhaps it’s because of my fear of failure; perhaps it’s for the freedom to evolve. I don’t want to have to explain why I don’t know what I’m doing, or how I want my work to end up. I am quite happy just driving forward at varying speeds, deliberating about my route at the next junction, and taking rest stops when I need to. So please, call me ambitious, but don’t ask me what my ambition is. I won’t be able to answer you; not for now, at least.
Jo is a 28-year old self-proclaimed storyteller, poet, and writer. She lives in Southampton in the UK. Jo is a romantic, a worrier, a lover of comedy, wordplay, and a people-pleaser. By day, she writes and edits copy about research and education; by night, she spends her time trying to make things rhyme. Over the last year, she’s dabbled in spoken word, poetry slams and open mic nights. You can find her on Twitter (@joannefisher), Instagram (@jo_fisher_) or on her blog (jofisherwrites.com ).
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