The Right Kind of Ambition
Should I be ambitious or content?
Lately, this is a question I’ve been asking myself. Earlier in university, I’d describe myself as ambitious. But this ambition stemmed from a place of insecurity. I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to prove people wrong, and I thought that achieving great things was the path to happiness and respect.
Through experience I learned this isn’t the case. I learned to look inward and work on myself. I became more comfortable in my skin and less sensitive to what other people thought about me. Instead, I became grateful for what I have. I started to see a paradox between ambition and contentment. There’s this tweet from Andrew Wilkinson I found myself nodding my head to, “Most successful people are just a walking anxiety disorder harnessed for productivity.” Now, I disagree with this.
Ambition can either come from a place of insecurity or a place of self actualization. Zat Rana expands on this idea:
There is a big but subtle difference between ambition driven by insecurity and ambition driven by the desire to self-actualize. The former is born out of not feeling enough — its source is either self-hate, or self-disrespect, or a combination. The latter, however, is simply an affirmation of life — it an attempt to do the most that one can do with the body one has been given. It doesn’t compete with others but with itself. It doesn’t project its own hate and moralizing onto the world because it has already dealt with them internally.