Monday, April 20, 2009

Reckless Ambition (Freelance, Part II)

Here’s the latest evolution in my thoughts about my freelance lifestyle. I’m comfortable with myself and with my work, which is writing books for teens. That’s what I do. It’s part of who I am. Even more so, it’s part of who I want to be. I have goals. I have plans. I work toward those goals. I enact those plans. Yet, at times, it seems to be not enough.

I believe I’m ambitious, because I want things and I work for them. Where I run into trouble is when I’m dealing with others. In this society, ambition is narrowly defined. This isn’t a choose-your-own-adventure kind of life, according to some. I’ve been accused of being unambitious. I’ve been accused of giving up, because I didn’t go to medical school, like I thought I might. I didn’t go to law school, like I thought I might. I’ve quit jobs I hated that could have led me to jobs I loved if I’d only stuck it out, paid my dues. Etc.

I’m ambitious, yes, but not in a way that feels real in the world, because I’m only able to motivate myself to do things I want to do. I easily stay up late at night writing. Working on my website design. Researching random topics for my books. I have to force myself to stop these activities in the wee hours. But I’d have trouble dragging myself to an office daily to plod through assigned tasks at a desk. It’s not that I can’t. I’ve done it. But I don’t want to, so I’ve built a life that lets me not have to. To me, that’s the height of ambition – making the world work for you, not the other way around. But the world looks upon me as someone who couldn’t hack it, so gave up and went away. Why?

What is ambition? Is it the drive to achieve a particular kind of success, or simply the degree of passion with which you pursue and enact your dreams? Does it imply willingness to endure any possible hardship to reach a certain endgame?

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