What is your ambition?
This was a popular topic for show-and-tell back in primary school. My classmates would share their lofty ambitions of being doctors, pilots and even ministers.
I was a little different.
I wanted to be an archaeologist. The long hours camped in front of the television in the company of cartoons that portrayed archaeology as an exciting craft — with never a day of boredom, opened my eyes to the endless possibilities. In ten years, I could become a famed archaeologist uncovering the greatest treasures in the world!
Childhood dreams tend to lean on the side of impracticality. As bright-eyed children at the tender age of eight, my classmates and I were all a little naïve. We had big dreams without consideration for the realities of society.
A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.
– Marcus Aurelius
Since then, I have come to terms with the fact that archaeology might not be the right profession for me. Archaeology is a niche discipline in Singapore, with local practitioners few and far between. Regardless, the pressure was on for me to discover my next big ambition.
After all, I can’t possibly be clueless when people ask me about my dreams… can I?
I set out to discover what I truly desire to do. From scouring the Internet to seeking the advice of my peers, I did everything possible to find the job of my dreams! I looked through different professions and tried to envision myself in various trades. Thus far, on this journey of uncovering my ambition, I have cycled through and eliminated a whole list of potential jobs, from kindergarten teacher to private investigator!
Yet, just last week, when the topic of career aspirations popped up in a conversation with Manager X at work, I was at a loss for words.
I don’t know.
Despite having spent so much time agonising over my aspirations, I have yet to reach an answer. I felt especially small before Manager X, given that he was someone who harboured big dreams from young, and has worked relentlessly to achieve it. In contrast, I was an aimless youth muddling about in life.
I gave a general answer and attempted to change the subject. However, when I returned home, I could not get it out of my mind.
Was I lacking in ambition?
Given that some of my peers already had their whole lives mapped out in front of them, the excuse of still being young and figuring things out seemed a tad frivolous. It sent me into a flurry of panic and I shared my concerns with my mother.
Perhaps it was age that granted her the wisdom, but her simple reply was one that lifted me out of the fog.
Ambition is good, but don’t let it cloud your view. Ultimately, it is about yourself so don’t compare yourself to others and take your time to uncover what you truly want to be.
I still don’t have an answer for what my ambition is, but I’m not embarrassed about that anymore. No need to measure myself against others – like an archaeologist, I will keep digging to unearth my aspirations and goals. It will be a lifelong journey, and I’ll require a limitless well of patience, but every spadeful of self-doubt that I clear out of my head is another step closer to an answer.
Just be yourself, hold true to yourself, your dreams and ambitions.
– Patrick Rahn