Ambition is a funny thing. I have to admit I was very ambitious as a young woman but I see now, because life can only be understood backwards, that most of my so-called ambitions were just consumerist desires masquerading as life goals.
It was the 80s! I wanted to live in New York City, even though the hairy goddess knows it would have chewed me up and spat me out. I wanted to drive a Jag, in English Racing Green. More consumerist nonsense. After a couple of big life upheavals, my pre-30 ambitions changed. I wanted my own business, a baby, and another trip to Paris. Perhaps a trip to Paris is consumerist but not the way I do it, with museum passes, public transport, and comfortable footwear.
I’ve never been terribly athletic. No, that’s not true. I’ve always had a bit of aptitude in that area but I hated how my face turned bright red so I avoided all strenuous activity.
For years I told myself that I wasn’t competitive, but the truth is I love collaboration! I have this secret dream of working in an amazing creative group where everyone has no agenda other than the success of the project. Sigh…
I hate how in sport (and in life) for someone to win, someone must lose and, after years of intermittent therapy and personal development, I can finally admit that I don’t like it when that person is me.
My ‘athletic’ pursuits tend toward the non-competitive anyway. I love yoga asana classes, Qi Gong, dancing. I started doing a dance class with my friend because I was finding my tap class a little too ambitious. Although we’d tried to explain to our young and very talented teacher that none of us had plans to dance on Broadway any time soon, he insisted on try to teach us things that were just too difficult, things that would have been too hard for me in my 20s.
I just want to move my body and try to keep the fat to a minimum so I never have to take a spin class.
I am ambitious about my writing. I’ve even started entering a few writing comps, which are by definition, competitive. But I don’t see other writers, whether we’re talking about Jojo Moyes or my fellow Writers’ Association peeps, as competition. I see them as colleagues, and fellow travellers on the journey. Some are further ahead and some are just starting to write.
I’m all about the ‘rising tide lifting all boats.’
And I need to tell myself that it’s okay if I have some success. I have a few patterns around self-sabotage and ‘deserving success’ that I still need to confront. It seems that my school teachers and other influences from childhood could be divided into two groups; the Yayers and the Nayers. Unfortunately, the Yayers were few and far between, so I listened to the Nayers and eventually any Yayers just sounded like they were blowing smoke up my ass. I’m learning to be my own Yayer and to listen carefully to feedback and criticism.
You can’t just accept all feedback without discernment.
We need to stop thinking that each and every criticism of our work is100% accurate. For me, this is a bad habit I picked up when making art to a brief but it is also something most of us learned as children.
Listening today to this: Rachel Griffiths reclaiming ‘Like a Girl’ on No Filter podcast.