Ambition

I’m tired this morning but can’t sleep anymore. I feel it in my muscles and with each yawn. My eyes aren’t quite awake yet enough to take in and focus on life yet. My brain has started going though. My brain is always going it seems. So I’ll start writing for the day and see where it takes me.

I described myself as not an ambitious person. As someone who’s content to stay in my lane. When I look at others who achieve these big dreams and goals and go around the world, I look at my own life and think, well that’s just not me. But not everyone is meant to be them and that’s okay. I’m meant to be me.

But why do the desire and longing still exist? A friend spelled out that that desire is actually the ambition. I’ve been calling myself not ambitious but in all actuality, I am quite ambitious. The question comes down to what to do with the ambition, will it cause me to act towards my desire?

I didn’t grow up in a house that talked a lot about ambition. We didn’t give it a name or identify it much. I wasn’t pushed toward action often unless it was a deadline for school. I flew under the radar at school. I did just enough to get by and achieve good grades, but never the top of the class. I wasn’t ever winning any awards.

I remember becoming aware of this in high school right around my junior year I think. My grades had qualified me for National Honor Society. My friends and I all filled out our applications and I just assumed I would be accepted, and then I wasn’t. To get into NHS you needed activities, both in school and out of school, where you were applying yourself and serving and bettering the community. The Vice Principal of the school pulled me into the office and told me my application just missed the mark. How could I apply myself more and push myself? He said I just needed one or two more things. So I did just one or two more things and made it in my senior year.

I played field hockey in high school. I wasn’t very “athletic” growing up. The only other sport I had done was a few years of gymnastics when I was very young. Everyone made the team and my neighbor played so I thought it might be something cool and fun to do. I liked the team atmosphere and being part of the group. But I was never the star. I chalked it up to not being very “athletic” and that it was okay, but when all my friends were being picked to move up to the varsity team by junior year and was left back by myself on JV I was crushed. I thought the coach was playing favorites.

One afternoon practice during warm-ups, I had just finished my mile. For the last 100 yards, we always sprinted seeing who would get in first. As I zoomed in the coach was there and pulled me aside. She asked why didn’t I have that kind speed and focus on the field? If I applied myself, then I probably would have made it up a level. I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t seen any difference in my performance on or off the field, but apparently, she did. We never talked about it again and I continued to play JV for the rest of the season.

By my senior year of high school I was ready to achieve different goals in life. I formulated it in my head that I wanted to do what I wanted to do, not what I felt everyone else expected me to do. I had a hunger and thirst to find out what life was made of because my pursuits up until this point were leaving me feeling less than. I quit hockey and used the time to join yearbook instead and had a blast. My skills as a leader began to take shape and I flourished better in that team environment. I was tired of always being in the chorus for the stage musicals at school so I decided to try something new and went backstage to learn a new skill at the spotlight. I was nervous about the responsibility but it was such a fun time. And through it all, I made new friends. Not the ones that were “popular” in high school terms, but ones that were authentic and genuine. I stopped caring what everyone else thought of me and began to live my life.

The other huge shift during this time was my pursuit of God. I had grown up going to church every Sunday morning. My parents were involved there, serving on different committees and with the Sunday School program, but the church and my pursuit of God existed only in that building. I don’t remember talking much about God in our home growing up. I thought that to be a Christian meant you went to church every Sunday, you believed in God, there was something about Jesus on Christmas and Easter but I couldn’t quite explain why that was important and I had no clue who the “Holy Ghost” was we recited about in the Apostles Creed.

When I began to pursue this new life I’m grateful that I also pursued God. One of the new groups I started attending at school was the Christian one. I heard new things about God and saw a group of people living a different sort of life. And I wanted that life. One that was living for someone’s approval and ideals that wasn’t my peers and meant so much more. This was the beginning of my journey that I’m still on, transforming into a new being.

And it seems like that transformation is coming full circle again in my life.  Tired of my old pursuits and ready to try out this thing I’m finally calling what it is, ambition to pursue deep longings and try new things that have for a long time been stirring deep inside my soul but I lacked the courage beyond the ambition to take the next step.  The fear will never change but my response to it and my indifference toward life can, one small step at a time.

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