Being Ambitious Is a Curse

But can it be lifted?

Photo by Ishmil Waterman

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care this much. I wish I didn’t wake up at six every morning, stroll out my bedroom and head straight for my laptop. I can’t even help myself now. Even if I tell myself at 1:00 a.m. the night before that I should sleep in a bit later to get some more rest, the curse wakes me up.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about views and likes and building an audience. It plagues me. With every piece I create these things matter more and more. And as my platform continues to grow, so does the importance of likes and views and building an audience.

I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk at least three times. After writing what has become the phenomenon of Eat, Pray, Love, she talks about the fear of not being able to repeat that accomplishment. My fears are almost the opposite. I fear that I have so much to say but no one is listening. Or not enough people are listening.

I can’t deny that every time I see one of my friends about to blow up, I feel both proud and anxious. Proud for obvious reasons, but anxious because I’m wondering when the time will come when their reasons will be obvious.

Ambition is a burden

Sometimes I wish I could give it back. Like dig it out of my soul, drain it ounce by ounce out of my blood and carve it from my bones. Because that’s what it would take. And even then I’d probably still limp my way back to my laptop at six in the morning. This is my burden.

It’s insatiable. Voracious. There’s nothing more important than filling this need to feel successful, to reach some level of accomplishment that seems impossible even to yourself, though you chase it every single day.

Ambition throws your life out of balance, makes you say things like, “I have no time,” or, “Sorry I couldn’t make it.” It makes you think sleeping four hours a night is honourable and working 15 hour days is necessary. It narrows your focus so that you are aware only of your vision. This is ambition.

But there is a choice

Ambition would never tell you this, but there’s actually another way. Working all day and night till your mind is clouded isn’t actually necessary. Getting plenty of sleep is possible and would better aid your progress towards your goals. Taking time off should be part of your planning in the same way you schedule your content.

If success is climbing a mountain, then you better be prepared for the journey. Mentally, physically, psychologically; preparation is what will fuel your ambition. This becomes more and more true to me everyday. And although I falter at times and give in to this ill-conceived notion of ambition, I’m able to bounce back much quicker now and find that balance.

My ambition is still insatiable, but I’m thankful now that I don’t always feel like I’m not giving it my all just because I fall asleep at a decent time or decided to take one day off out of the week. The level of my ambition is no longer determined by how effectively I can neglect my health.

I’m no longer burdened by those false truths, and even though I really did feel like being so driven and motivated and ambitious must be some kind of curse, I welcome it more as a responsibility that I owe to myself to live my life with passion and pursue what I love. Lifting the curse becomes possible when you recognize that it’s actually a blessing.