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Ambition Can Be a Dirty Word

A Speak Your Mind essay

by CursingMama  |  3184 views  |  1 comment  |       Rate this now! 

Have you become less ambitious about your personal or career goals since having kids?

Ambitious is a funny word. So often it is used to describe a man so focused on his career and his ultimate goals that he is considered enviable; Ambitious is a positive trait. However when I hear the very same word applied to women it is usually preceded with the word overly and is meant to imply ruthlessness, bitchy, and overly masculine; there is nothing positive about ambition or the way it is being said.

The dictionary I keep close at hand defines ambition itself as "an eager or strong desire to achieve something" and ambitious as "marked by ambition; requiring much effort: challenging". Nothing derogatory should come from words that have no true negative definition. And yet, when I hear the word and try to apply it to my own self the way I've heard it in the past screams in my head "you are not ambitious, ambition is bad".

In my life the decision to have children came long before my ability to set true or realistic career goals. I was 22 years old and struggling to complete my sophomore year of college when my first child, a son, was born. Over the next three years as I struggled to find my way as a wife and mother I also struggled to try and figure out where my place was to be in the career world. I vacillated between wanting to be a driven and successful career woman and a desire to be a great mom who made dinner every night and never missed a soccer game. My goals clashed as I worked toward them and I never even pondered that somewhere between these two extremes was there an achievable balance.

In the 14+ years since I welcomed that beautiful baby boy into my life I've learned that there can be balance; where my career and personal goals once competed they have evolved to coexist and even compliment each other. Am I less ambitious? No, I am just as passionate about my goals as I once was; but those goals have definitely changed.

1 comment so far...

  • Great post. We women rarely get support to value our sacrosanct ambitious career goals every bit as much as we value our other precious personal priorities, including our children, partnerships, friendships, and communities. You're so right--all can co-exist; and we don't have to figure it all out--figure out how to make it work--today. Life is a long time.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dr. Debra Condren on 27th September 2007