Thursday, April 23, 2009

What would life be without *it*?

A very near and dear one once said to me, “I couldn’t marry someone who wasn’t ambitious. If the person is complacent themselves, how would they understand my ambition and what will they teach the generation after?” With time, I seem to see the reality in the confession.

The other day, a friend called me a true prototype of my Zodiac sign—ambitious. I couldn’t agree more; I am a classic Capricorn and not embarrassed to admit it. My mother’s generation fought and sacrificed so women from my generation could have the freedom we have today, and I refuse to let their efforts go a waste by wearing an excuse of “societal-expectations.” See, one of my close college friend’s mothers is a qualified architect, but her in-laws didn’t allow her to practice architecture because that would mean long hours with strangers (read as “males”). Hmmm. So every woman from her generation, who decided to have a career, was libidinous while the stay-at-home women, with an army of servants and countless free hours on their hands, worshipped their husbands? The silliness didn’t end there; she was “allowed” to teach in a school because that would translate to minimal interaction with the opposite sex yet offer her flexible timing so she could bring home money and put up a spread on the table at meal timings. Her ambition was defined for her, but that was then—a generation ago.

More importantly, the true meaning of ambition doesn’t lie in the ordinary definition of 9-5. Ambition is a flavorful word with several dimensions to it. Here is one aspect of the Merriam-Webster meaning for ambition“It applies to the desire for personal advancement.” This personal advancement comes from the aspiration to defy mediocrity. It’s that unique quality that makes every human special. A very good friend of mine, who lives in San Diego, could put most women to shame with the kind of stuff she does with her life and family. The list is endless, so I’ll stop, but I did suggest that she start a “What Not to Wear” show targeted towards mothers with appalling taste in style, so they wouldn’t dress their kids like dweebs. That aside, due to her phenomenal desire to defy the ordinary, her four-year old wanted to be taken to a "messy" beach, so that she and her sister could pick up the trash and help clean it up! Did I mention that her seven-year old willingly eats healthy food and rarely even smells junk food? My friend knows her ambition (It’s not a 9-5 corporate ruckus) and is darn good at it. Hmm. Now when I think of it, she too is a Capricorn.:-)

People assume the longer hours you spend at work or the more you travel on business, the more driven you are. And they say it like it’s a crime. Well, for starters, wrong! Some women have to keep longer hours because that’s what their job entails. Then there are women, who work because of financial constraints. I have super-successful corporate friends, who love their families as much as stay-at-home women, but because you can’t have the cake and eat it too, you do what’s required. You can’t say I can do what a man does and then leave things midway because you want to come home and cook or sing a lullaby. The way Mother Nature created us women, you want to be able to put a fresh meal on the table and read a story to your little one, but it can’t all be done. It’s tough and draining, but the inability to do these little things shouldn’t earn the woman insipid comments like, “An ambitious woman can never keep a house happy.” By the same token, just because a woman is always available for her family, doesn’t make her super-competent and compassionate. It’s quality vs. quality. What if she’s too lazy to juggle a work life balance or lacks the drive or confidence or interest to go out in the real world. Again, just because a woman is a stay-at-home person, doesn’t mean she lacks the drive. My friend in San Diego is a classic example. To each his own, but don’t condemn “ambition” like it’s a leper you don’t want to see on the streets.

I want to end my rants with: If your ambition is to cruise through life doing nothing but staying happy the way you are, kudos to you. Do just that because that’s your ambition, and there is nothing wrong with it. Its life without a drive that is tragically sad.

More until next time.

Copyright © 04.23.2009

“Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds” - Oscar Wilde


Anonymous said...

just lovely

J said...

Fantastic article Sweta.

BC said...

The MCP in me could not agree more on this. The subject has to be, in my opinion, viewed on case to case basis and there can be no thumb rule to justify what is right and what is wrong. Each individual ought to draw a line for herself( or for that matter himself) and draft & implement action plan without or with minimum compromise on own convictions. Once drawn into it, be it intentional or circumstantial, do not brood about it and play blame game. What is ,perhaps, most important is to keep one self charged and happy till the end hits you for eternity.

S said...

Kudos to a well written, thought provoking article!
From a fellow Capri.

Anonymous said...

totally mast. keep it up.

Anonymous said...

totally mast. keep it up.

Prabha said...

being a capricorn - i couldnt agree less..