As I age, certain words fall out of, and then back into, my vocabulary. Different adjectives are used to describe people with the same characteristics at different stages of life:
- In grade school, I could be challenging and disruptive due to constant questions.
- In high school and college, mentors and teachers took interest in me because of this same curiosity and ambition.
- In nursing school - motivated and hard-working.
- In work life - engaged.
Each of these words carries nuanced differences, but is that why they are chosen? American culture, or at least midwest culture, seems to deem certain words more appropriate for different age groups.
I have not thought of myself as an ambitious person in quite a long time. Maybe I dropped that descriptor from my byline when I reduced my focus on material wealth and "success." Perhaps I dropped it because it is used to describe a co-worker you should be wary of - cut-throat.
I have found a lot more clarity and happiness as I have redefined my goals, values, and expectations in the last few years. And if I had posted the multitude of blogs that I have drafted since our return - you would know that I still have a lot of angst. A lot of frustration.
Marathon Trip to Land Between the Lakes, KY
I have been following a you-tuber named Casey Neistat for quite some time now and he has recently had a lot of messages that have resonated with me. We are of similar age, and he is expecting a child about a week after Susan and I - so perhaps his messages speak to this period of transition. In any event, he made a video that touched on the idea of being ambitious that felt like it illuminated some of what I feel and some of what I had forgotten.
Being an ambitious person comes with a certain sense of dissatisfaction. I have an inner drive to accomplish a lot. It is a stressful life to live, but I take joy in the work and occasionally the accomplishment. I love learning, growing, thinking, and creating. It makes me uncomfortable a lot of the time - but kudos to Casey for reminding me part of who I am is a busy person. Not all of my busyness is good for me or productive - and I can continue to grow the model of my busyness - but I am probably destined to forever be ambitious in my undertakings.
You may find my sentiments pretty similar to his.
And so as we prepare for the change of bringing a child into the world - I can accept many of the more “age appropriate” words people use to define me - but it is helpful for me to remember that I can still have a youthful or child-like ambition too.
It may not the “best” way to live, but it is the life I am living, albeit struggling against more than necessary. Thanks to Casey reminding me how it is, maybe I can ride the wave a bit more: A choice to embrace it or change it.
Wisdom is all around us - but I find it harder than ever to engage and hear it.