The struggle of ambitious people
Its a double edged sword. It will help you succeed but may also hurt your happiness.
Ambition will help you succeed, but it may also destroy your happiness along with it.
When you have insatiable ambition, there is a constant feeling of failure. You may be in the top 1%, but none of that matters because you want to be the best.
You may have genuine goals in the beginning, but aggressive ambition can cause you to loose sight of them. When your goals differ from the competitive landscape around you, you may find yourself trying to beat others more than trying to achieve your goals.
Instead of accepting that things might turn out differently, you assume there must've been something wrong with your attempt instead. And worst off: if you fail at something, instead of learning from it, you get angry and make false assumptions to justify abandoning your path. You don’t mind tormenting yourself forever in an attempt to fix a problem you've only imagined in your head.
As you move further and further away from your goal, you become more resolute in intensifying efforts to beat a challenge you're creating by yourself. As a result, you are constantly putting yourself in pressure from the never-ending achievement hunt that can go on forever.
I was sitting with my friends the other day, chatting about their life: education, work, ambitions, dreams etc. Later on when I was alone at home, I couldn't get my life off of my mind. I constantly looped through their conversations. "Ambition doesn't equal success!" I said to myself. But then, its not that simple, obviously, because I kept thinking about it. And thinking, and thinking, and thinking. I crawled into my bed and couldn't sleep. Not because of the thoughts, but because of the accompanying stream of anxiety. That was the night I knew my problem. It was the night I realized ambition can be keeping me awake at night.
How can having needed ambition be such a bad thing? Lets think: doctor, mathematician, scientist, actor, singer, politician, astronaut...these are all ambitious careers that I can personally think of. Ambition takes you so far, maybe even too far.
And I understood then, that I am afraid of never reaching my goals. I want to be number one, I want to be the best at what I do. That’s how motivated and determined I am. And don't get me wrong - this is a good thing, something I am proud of and always will be. But the mere fact that I am so motivated and self-sufficient makes me so over-hungry and persistent when I pursue my goals. Ambition is like a disease (a positive one). It gives you so much strength and power, but it also leaves you in a fully distracted state of mind. It's like you’re gone for battle and you won't return unless you're successful and kill what you need to kill.
I can’t stay motivated forever and lose myself in pursuit of dreams after I reach a goal. I need to slow down and understand "this is enough" - because reaching the top of the mountain is not about throwing my body down the mountain, it's about climbing with care.
Short-term goals which makes one feel successful after and increasingly strive for long term goals which make him or her happy both during and after achieving them (any takers?).
Focusing on long-term goals which let you suffer from unfulfillment and depression is bad. But aiming for short term goals which make you a completely different person is far worse. Everyone suffers from the downhill, including the ones who don't have genuine ambition to reach a higher place in life.
So why is depression such a bad thing - aside from the obvious consequences and the number of victims it makes each year?
Why? Because I know myself. I know I have to fake my happiness and I hate this. I hate the constant smile on my face which never represents true happiness. Whenever I do anything cute with my boyfriend in public and feel excited, I have to act indifferent and not show emotion because that's the role I'm playing at the moment. Even worse is when I get satisfaction from doing things I enjoy, like contributing creatively and crafting things for others, which shouldn't make me feel better after, because I am lying and I hate it, every step of the way.
When I am with my boyfriend and behave the way I’m supposed to act, I feel my way to happiness is blocked by false pretense. I can't possibly supply him with the love he deserves when my heart feels glass-like. I cant care enough and show enough affection when my heart is always somewhere else.
I feel trapped by a fake reality that never lets me be myself, and a heart that never stays in one place. Depression describes me perfectly.
Ambition provides me such a strong willpower and motivates me to be successful, but cuts me off from who I want to be in life. Its the contrast between who I am truly at this moment and who I plan to be in the future which makes me feel so confused and misplaced.
Which is the worse? The distance between how I feel on the inside and then what I show outside? Or the distance between how I feel today, and what I felt like 10 years ago? Its the inverse of your expectations which keep you anchored while departure leaves you on the lost ground: on a path you can't name, a path that never seems to end.
You f*ck with yourself - you promise your friends that'll see them later but instead end up obsessing over your troubled thoughts. You turn off your promises and break your own moral codes. It makes you feel less than any raving lunatic. There’s a saying, don’t judge one by how he appears on the outside but how he feels on the inside. Apparently no one could possibly judge me because those people are so far away from me that I only have myself to complain to.
And really, do we really think judging others on how they appear for that little time that we are next to them and can closely observe them is the only way to pass eyesight judgments? Judging and projecting expectations upon others and never being satisfied with whats shown in return is a temporary fix… a safe way to our shattered reality.
Vulnerability is bad. In truth and in courage, that might be the worst of all. Anyways, live your life, build and share, be prosperous and happy, have long and fulfilling relationships.. you don’t know what you are missing. Stop being scared to be happy and start being happy. All that matters is being.
And lets leave ambition out of the matter. Because, as I have found, happiness is something you need not chase, nor pursue, nor suffer to be. Being happy is being. This is not a goal to fulfill, this is a life worth living.