Chronic Ambition

Chronic Ambition pic

I saw this Tweet the other day:

“My friends to me: I got my dream job & into the 6 grad schools I applied to!

Me: I didn’t cry today.”

It’s humorous, but behind every piece of humor I find, is an underlying truth.

As a recent grad, I’m all too familiar with the “So what’s next?” interrogations from inquisitive, well-meaning family and family friends. I even had my mom put off the grad party as long as possible as to give me ample time to establish a concrete plan before serving as target to such questions.

I’m not used to 1) not having a plan or concrete next set of actions, 2) “just relaxing,” or 3) doing nothing for extended periods of time. I’ve probably had no less than two panic attacks since graduating related to all the above. If there was any doubt before, I am indeed the stereotypical (but not too intense) type-A personality (not exactly a Rory Gilmore, and definitely not a Paris Gellar).

But you need not be a type-A or B or any “type” at all to have or know your own ambition. I’d venture to say that most people, or at least most of the people I’ve met have a lot of ambition. Everyone has a desire for a satisfying end result but not everyone has the means or necessary game plan for getting there.

What makes ambition potentially ‘chronic’ though is the almost detrimental impact it can have. I’m convinced that even if you eventually “have everything,” it still won’t be enough in the long run.

I liken it all to this:

I can have everything going for me (at least in the public eye), but still second-guess myself when I see that a friend or acquaintance I haven’t talked to since high school has scored a really great internship, or an acceptance to a prestigious university, or an amazing post-grad European backpacking trip, or a June wedding that puts Pinterest to shame, or or an interview for a job I perhaps was looking into as well.

What am I doing wrong? Dang, maybe I should’ve interned last summer instead of working for min wage. Wait, I had better grades; why don’t I have X,Y, or Z? What am I doing with my life?

I probably need to take a sabbatical from social media.

The point being that even when the main, primary goal is achieved, we’ll always, ALWAYS want more. Which is only natural. Growing up, my objective goal of eventually being allowed to read and watch all the Harry Potter series installments as a child has dramatically shifted to more adult, pragmatic goals. “More” is temporary once we eventually get that “more.” And if you didn’t see it already, pride and insecurity play into the deadly concoction of chronic ambition.

I wonder if all this ambition we’ve accumulated will result in yes, eventual success, but also a lethal mentality in which we believe that whatever we have in one moment isn’t good enough.

So now that I’ve posed this problem, this is where I usually offer some sort of solution or solace. Unfortunately I have none, not right now anyway. I’ll let you know when I do…and whatever “next big thing” I’ve moved onto.


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