Musings from the padded room

fredag 18 februari 2011

Boys (and girls) be ambitious?

I was getting ready to go to the stables this evening when all of a sudden I was struck by the sudden thought:
"What have I done with my life?"
And then, as I was driving to the stables, I was overcome with a sense of surreality. To realise that I am 25 years old and wondering what I've done with my life... What the heck?!

I am sometimes overcome with a feeling of restless impatience, as if I should be somewhere I'm not. And the reason I'm not where I should be is because I haven't done what I should've done earlier. I have missed opportunities, made wrong turns and so on. But at the same time I can't help but feel how impossibly stupid it is to think like that. If you ask my family and friends they'd tell you that I have always seemed to know what I want to do and where I'm headed. Looking back at old diaries and the likes I sometimes laugh at how straight a line my life has been. Ever since early childhood I liked to write and draw. At age 7 I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a journalist. Today I am a journalist, or at least I have gotten the education of one even though I currently am not employed as one. I have never flitted about, trying things out, like many others seem to have done. I've kept a red thread throughout my life, with the occasional twirl. I might not have thought it at the time but everything I've done in the past seems to somehow have led me up to this place where I'm at now. I should be happy and satisfied. I've obviously managed to find out what I want to do and gone on to find ways to get there, without even realising it myself. And yet I feel like I should be somewhere else, even though I have no idea where or why I should be at that place. Or why I should feel like I've already missed my chances despite being only 25 years old.

The thing is, however, that I sometimes get this feeling that the society at large expects you to be well into your life and career by this age. You should already have working experience (forget about getting a job if you don't have it... even though you can't get experience until you get a job) and have started thinking ahead several steps. You should be hungry, ambitious and always looking ahead for the next big step.

I'm not a go-getter. I really am not. Which makes my chosen career as a journalist kind of tricky since nowadays the only jobs within journalism seem to be freelance gigs, chasing the news with a magnifying glass and a lasso. I am not a chaser in that regard. I do not lie awake at night, pondering and analysing the goings-on around me. I do not often look around me and wonder how I can find a newsworthy angle on the copious amounts of road construction going on in my town right now. I have no ambitions to unmask corrupt politicians, unravel the wicked plans of major corporations to fool the people or even catch a big name doing something they shouldn't be doing. I do not wish to be in the middle of the action at the battlefields around the world. I am not aiming to change the world. If one person could do it, it would've already been well under way (or that is my opinion at least).

My ambitions are modest to say the least. I am happy as long as I have a steady income which enables me to comfortably pay my bills, eat and make sure my animals get whatsoever they may need. If I like my job... all the better. It's not a requirement at this point, however. I'm game as long as I at least can feel I can do my job, earn my pay and not have to worry each day whether I'll have money to pay my rent once next month comes a-knockin' on my door with knuckle dusters. My dream job as a journalist hasn't got a thing to do with "The BIG SCOOP". I want to be the journalist that comes into the office every day, checks my mail and then goes out to do an article on the city council meeting or the neighbourhood festival that day. I want to write about the everyday news, about what's going on around me, in the community I live in. And at the end of the day I want to go home and feel like I did the best I could today to give the people I see on the streets around me something to talk about in between coming home from work and going to bed. Or over breakfast. I want to be the kind of journalist that makes people think: "Oh, I didn't know we had something like that just around the corner", "Oh my, did our mayor really think it would be a good idea to suggest that at the meeting yesterday?" or "How about we go out on Saturday and check out that park they recently opened downtown?". I'll gladly let others chase down the big news and stay in my little corner of the world writing about the news that, on a global (or maybe even national scale), are just drops of water in the sea.

The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any call for such journalists. If you're not constantly on the move, searching and chasing, you're not ambitious enough.

Fine. I'm not ambitious, we've already established that. But isn't that a good thing?

At least I won't be switching jobs every third month. I won't go chasing the better job, the higher pay (that's not to say I wouldn't like having a nice, fat salary but it's not a complete must). If I find a steady job where I can relax and be myself I will stay loyal, I will stay steady and do my best within the frame for that job. Sure, I may or may not come with the occasional suggestion for eventual improvements but I will be happy as long as I can feel safe in my job, feel like I can do it well enough and receive an occasional pat on the back. I would love to be the inventory employee, the one who's always there, steady and reliable but maybe not all that exciting all the time. Why isn't there any employers out there who seem to know how to appreciate the potential for firm loyalty and steadfastness?

The title for this post, by the way, is a quote from one William S. Clark who managed to do a lot in his life. It is said that the quote came about as Clark took his farewells of his students and co-workers at the Sapporo Agricultural College (nowadays called Hokkaido University) in Japan. The reason I chose that title (and added the "girls" part since he'd apparently only addressed males) was because I can't help but wonder why there seem to be such an obsession with ambition. Ambition is good, don't get me wrong. But there are more kinds of ambition than the "go-getter", constantly looking for the next big thing/change the world-type. I feel like we should remember and appreciate that potential for diversity.

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