“There’s nothing wrong with being driven. And there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first to reach your goals.” – Shonda Rhimes
I have always been an ambitious person. Growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer, with my designs gracing runways from New York to Milan. My goal was one that I believed was tangible, and the dedication that I poured into achieving my dream reflected on my driven character.
Mind you, I was merely 12 or 13 years old, but I had already began investing in my dream. I can recall buying a sketch book dedicated for beginner designers, a computer game that allowed you to mix and match various outfits, and one of my most prized possessions was my folder containing my very own original designs. There wasn’t a single shred of doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be successful, or that I would change my mind.
Turns out, I was wrong.
As I grew older, my desire to become a fashion designer slowly diminished. However, my interest in fashion and design never truly went away; to this day, I sometimes entertain the idea of initiating my own clothing line.
Fashion design was not the only profession I wanted to pursue once upon a time. As someone who loves anything to do with astronomy and space, being an astrophysicist was a career path that I dreamed of, not too long ago in fact. As cliché as this sounds, my goal was NASA. I could see myself defying people’s expectations, and making ground-breaking discoveries about the final frontier.
I was tenacious when it came to my decision, and just like fashion designing, I believed my mind was firmly made. It seems that being a fashion designer, or an astrophysicist were not foreseeable events in my near future. I say near future, because learning never truly stops. It doesn’t matter if you’re 30 or past retirement age; you can always go back to school and learn something new. The distant future is unknown and vast, and maybe 20 years from now, I could possibly be both an astrophysicist and a fashion designer.
Being ambitious means having the drive and obstinacy to take on whatever interests you. Who says you can’t be a psychologist and a fashion designer? Or a writer and an astrophysicist?
Labelling ambitious women as “difficult” or “divas” is merely a form of oppression.
Ambition is a word that society usually reserves for men, and men only. I’m fortunate enough to have a family that consists of career-oriented, successful women for me to look up to. Unfortunately, it’s not the same case for so many young girls out there, who are pressured into making themselves and their dreams smaller, masking their capabilities and aspirations so that they can be accepted by society.
Labelling ambitious women as “difficult” or “divas” is merely a form of oppression. A man is encouraged to work his way up the occupational ladder, but a woman is falsely convinced that she doesn’t need to reach the top, that she should be grateful she even has a job, that she could never be a leader. What is so wrong about a woman having dreams she wants to make a reality, goals she wants to reach, and plans that she wants to fulfill? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
When asked, I proudly state that I am an ambitious woman. Always have been, and always will be. It’s not about being power-hungry, or being a gold-digger. It’s about understanding your worth, challenging yourself, reaching your full potential. My gender does not make my dreams any less valid.
Being a woman, and being ambitious are not mutually exclusive. It is highly imperative that young girls are taught that they can be whatever they want, and that they don’t, by any means, have to limit themselves to a certain profession based on what society expects.
I truly believe that just because you’ve chosen one career path, it does not mean that you can’t simultaneously pursue another. You can truly accomplish whatever it is you set your mind to, as long as you are determined and motivated. As corny as the above sentence sounds, I can assure you it is nothing but the truth. I encourage all women and girls to own their ambition, and above all else, be proud of it!
After all, Stormzy said it best: “You can be a woman and a boss, and wear the trousers at the same time.”