It’s been said many times, many ways - what we think, we become.
That means i could probably convince myself that I was a glass of orange juice if I tried hard enough. Maybe I’m actually a glass of orange juice that has been thinking really hard about becoming a human girl. All I know is that I feel better when I let myself be myself.
I desire to be undaunted and strong. So I tell myself I’m successful, I act like I have my shit together. I pretend to be confident and I do start to actually become confident. I try to believe that I’m just as capable as anyone. I believe in putting positive vibes in the universe, and they often come back. So I keep thinking good thoughts about myself.
Sometimes this backfires. Because sometimes I am not all the things I keep pretending to be. It makes me feel like a fraud. That’s when I start to compare and question. Am I cut out for this? My ambitions tend to discourage me. It makes me want to hide in the corner and leave the ambition to the CEOs.
Ambition. That’s a good thing right? We are told early on that we need to reach for the stars and dream big. The more you do, the more you are, the better you are. That's a lot of pressure.
I never wanted to be an astronaut or a movie star. In high school, while my peers were stressing about their transcripts and deciding on colleges, I set my sights a bit lower. I was a motivated teen, sometimes rolling out of bed before noon and wandering to the park or the bookstore. I dropped out of high school to focus my energies on going to concerts and taking road trips to small towns in the middle of the night. I was clearly an overachiever. I had one real dream, to see the world. And go to as many beaches as possible. That was basically it. I just didn’t care about all the things I was supposed to care about.
The world kept telling me that I must be a burnout, I was doing it wrong. I started to think maybe I was. I allowed my own thoughts to confuse my identity for the sake of social acceptance. That’s some powerful thinking. Especially for a glass of orange juice.
I definitely went an alternative route, but it was my path to choose. When I tried to take the conventional course, I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing it so I could say I did something. I finished high school through the mail, just so I could tell the world I did it. I went to college for 2 minutes, just so I could check the ’some college’ section on a job application. For the ambitious folks who are unfamiliar, a job application is like a low grade résumé. You check boxes of categories you best fit into, to determine your merit. I have accomplished many things, but nothing that fits in a box. Nothing that a job application enquires about.
I’ve made a lot of dumb choices and there’s plenty I’m not proud of. But I don’t want to impose anyone else’s standards on myself. I think we should decide what road we want to take. I don’t think putting an insane amount of pressure on kids (or anyone for that matter) to be overly ambitious will make them happy in the long run. Its kind of saying that you shouldn’t settle for what you are, that you aren’t good enough yet.
By definition, part of being ambitious means never really being satisfied. So you are essentially aiming to never feel content. Thank goodness there are ambitious people in the world, but that isn’t the only way to be in the world. It doesn’t appear that boundless ambition isn’t without it’s own detriments.
I live somewhere in between being too hard on myself and not living up to all the things I keep telling myself I am. At this point, I’m not as focused on self improvement so much as self acceptance.
I’m not saying that we should all just give up and go take a nap. Well, sometimes I’m saying that. My point is that some of us just want to feel gratified where we’re at, and not push so hard. I’m still content to baby step my way to the beach, taking plenty of hammock naps along the way. So long as you aren’t complacent, I don’t see anything wrong with setting your own goals. Despite what the world tells you will make you happy.
I still question myself, and I still have doubts. I just won’t listen to that voice. There are plenty of other voices chattering up there. If I listen, I can hear that little whisper that says, you got this. You are capable.
I believe that my opinion carries as much weight as any self help guru or professional brain expert (is that a profession? sounds ambitious). Me, who hasn’t had a real job in years. Me, a recovering alcoholic, a bipolar high school dropout, covered in tattoos and wearing two different socks. I’m making this up as I go along, but so are you. Most of this shit is totally out of our control.
If your dream is to own a Fortune 500 company, or become a brain surgeon, go for it! That's awesome. But if you want to sell coconuts on the beach in Mexico, totally acceptable.
Don’t be afraid to let others see you for what you are. Learning to accept your mind and your personal desires isn't as easy as it sounds. Only you decide what makes you happy, and what you are capable of. Ambition isn’t the same thing as motivation. Cut yourself some slack. There's no race, and there's certainly no finish line. Just be whatever the hell you want to be.