Earlier this month, The Cut published one of the most honest pieces about female ambition that I’ve read. It’s something my peers and I have spoken about ad nauseam. Aptly titled “The Ambition Collision,” it talks about how the women in my generation have used ambition as a badge of honor only to now feel like the life we planned for ourselves isn’t the life we want to lead.
We’ve romanticized ambition, and reality is setting in.
For a large majority of my peers, ambition has been so tied to self worth that instead of growing up and having a dream of a white picket fence, it was a dream of a cushy office. It was a notion of fabulosity – to have it all. There’s a quote that rings true:
“…They were the girls who were supposed to run stuff – who as girls imagined themselves leaving the airport in stylish trench coats, hailing a taxi with one hand while holding their cell in the other.”
But, somewhere along the way, the real world got involved. There has to be more to this, right? A glamorous dream becomes a grind. Fantasies set in of a simpler life. While the article centers more on what 30-somethings are feeling, it rings true for those in their 20s too. We suddenly question what we thought we wanted whenever we go out to dinner with friends or scroll through our feeds and see what others are up to.
Ambition was the promise of a fabulous life. Now we realize all we ever wanted was to lead a happy life.
We start asking ourselves, what is it that drives us? As the article points out, we’re “too responsible” to stop it all and start anew. Instead, we keep pushing with the hope that something reignites us.
The reason why I’m talking about this on here is that while a lot of Thrivery is about inspiring young people with career advice, it’s more specifically about being, well, honest. This is the reality. There’s more to life than just work, and a lot of us are only now realizing that. Quotes like, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” don’t have the same power as they used to. We want to lead a happy, full life.
If you’re going through this right now, know you’re not alone in how you feel. You don’t have to feel guilty for it. You don’t have to feel hopeless or helpless.
The solution is not to get up and quit (unless you’re in a truly awful job situation), it’s to reframe your thinking. It’s to see your job for what it can provide to you, not solely how it can help you get right to the top. It’s to understand what else motivates you.
Your job can give you all the things that you DO want to have or to do, like travel or start a family. If you take some of your eggs out of the job basket and start dispersing them to other areas, you can lead a more fulfilled life. It’s okay to have the dream of you in that trench coat shattered. It could be the dream of you in yoga pants grabbing an Uber, instead.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s not an ambition collision after all, but rather a realization of the truth — that a fulfilled life is a culmination of experiences in all facets.