Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The legitimacy of an ambition

What is ambition? Why do many of us bombard young minds with the highly improbable question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Are we (read slightly older individuals than the kids) trying to make idle conversation with the young one who happen to be either a friend's son/daughter, a niece or a nephew. I have seen it many times and cringe at that question. Some smart kid who has been fed well by the parents, repeats like a parakeet,

I want to become a doctor, 

I want to become a scientist, 

I want to become an Engineer,

I want to become a  . . a  . . . a (the uncle/aunty/akka/anna/cousin who asks the question is bored and the poor kid is dismissed).

Some parents are quite happy to answer the question: I always wanted to be a doctor but somehow it didn't happen and so I am determined to make my son/daughter a doctor.



What makes an ambition? Does everyone need to have an ambition? How do we determine what we will become after say, ten years. Now wait, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that one should not have any motivation for the future, but thinking of a profession when one is three or four seems ridiculous. Don't we all change from time to time? How can a young kid dream of something of which he/she does not even know. Does the child know that being a doctor involves blood, extreme patience, kindness and long working hours or the glowing Engineer has to struggle. Well, how can ambitions be formed without having an inkling of what the profession is.

I remember as a kid I was proud to say I want to become a doctor and when I saw everyone's smiles and nods, I was quite sure that I had said something which is absolutely wonderful. Well, at this given moment, I want to run a restaurant and cook delicious food, in spite of being a teacher!!

Growing up with an ambition actually restricts an individual immensely. One is closed to the other probable possibilities that would have actually suited the individual best. If not for ambition, there would be no books and sites which scream: Turn what you like doing best into your profession. The advise comes at a point when one is too lazy to switch over into something new.

Well, what if a child says, My ambition is to be.

Are you doing something which you like or are you caught in the profession of your childhood ambition but regretting it.



Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

49 comments:

  1. For starters, this is a nice post. I did not have an ambition when I was young. The first thing one wants to become when they grow up is a teacher. I was through that phase and after that I knew I wanted a career, but, I was not good in anything...sort of jack of all and master of none. So, I did what everyone does at some point of time...got married, had kids...raised them up. Now I am following my heart.
    I am teaching my kids to follow their hearts too.

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    1. Following one's heart seems like a good thing but how many of us truly listen to wha the heart has to say. In today's world, the sound of the heart is silenced by many other noises.

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  2. Well, what if a child says, My ambition is to be. What a powerful line. I wish all children would say that.
    Would you believe that I had no ambitions growing up - except to married and raise a family? Strange how life took me through a whole lot of careers before I actually got married. So I've been banker, social worker, teacher, trainer, business person and now I'm just happy to be ME.

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    1. Glad that you have finally found the joy of being YOU, dear Corinne.

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  3. Have you noticed that the answers seem to be always almost the same? Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer etc. Personally I dont think you can really know what you want to really be until maybe you are in your mid-twenties. As a kid you don't really knows what exists out there except what your parents/teachers have told you. No kid ever says they want to be a crooked politician yet crooked politicians exist in plenty, where did they come from?

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    1. Yes, tehr eis definitely a pattern: Doctor, Engineer, Teacher and the like. Even I think that one truly realises what one wants to be not until the twenties but how many of us are willing to let time flow that way. By the time we are finishing school, we are expected to have chosen something to pursue our studies and eventually lead to a career.

      And, about your last question, there are no plausible answers!

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  4. I like what I am doing very much Susan! Fortunately even while I had an ambition as a kid (to be a teacher) it was my own choice and when I changed gears that was own doing too. Its been a great journey so far : )

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    1. Glad that your journey was pleasant. Only a few can manage that, Kriti.

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  5. " I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but shadow of a shadow."-Hamlet (Shakespeare).
    I agree with this.
    -Portia

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    1. Shadow of a shadow!!! Shakespeare can't have gone wrong with that. he understood the human psyche so very well :)

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  6. i think there is a difference between ambition and passion...and even diffent from intention...many have these dreams, fewer have the passion to put into and even fewer the ambtiion it takes to really go after it esp once it gets hard...

    and i def think they change over our life as well...

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    1. Wow, Brian, now there are three: Ambition/Passion/Intention. Changes always creep in without us knowing and we often feel quite lazy to shift gear.

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  7. So many people define who they are by what they do; and, others define them in that way as well. Coincidentally, I have a devotion which will post this coming Saturday which deals with the very question: "Who Am I?"
    And, yes, I think having or being spoon-fed an ambition too early in life closes the door to other possibilities for one's life.
    I taught for years to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I loved teaching, but my passion is, and always will be, writing. I'm so glad I can now do this full time!
    Great post and wonderful food for thought!

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    1. Martha, I am glad that you found your niche and that you are doing it full time. Thanks for coming by, dear Martha. Your comment reinstates that ambition is something that comes as life goes on. As a kid, one cannot define what we would want to do when we grow up.

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  8. I wish I had read this when I was a kid. :) I remember feeling pressured to come up with an answer when adults asked this question. My only world other than school then was the church, so I'd say I wanted to be a pastor or a missionary. Today, people laugh when I tell them this. I suppose that's an indication how much I've failed in achieving my childhood "ambition." Not only did I NOT become a pastor or missionary, I apparently became laughably UNLIKELY to become one! Epic fail, right?

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    1. Pastor or missionary!!! Well, cannot imagine you that way, Age. I wonder what aspect of the "pastor" fascinated you? Was it to be an 'important man,' or ''serving god,' or just an answer.
      Hmmm. We come a far way from those awkward childhood ambitions.
      My husband wanted to be a postman!!! Can you imagine that?

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    2. I think I've always liked talking, so I thought being up there behind the pulpit was a great talking fix, haha! Never mind that I usually dozed off during the sermon!

      A postman! Hmmm he must have seen the film, The Postman Always Rings Twice. :))

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    3. He is the son of a priest so while he was growing up, not many foreign films to watch. I guess he was fascinated to carry messages from one end to another.

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  9. Nowadays kids are smarter, My nephew wants to become a professional football player. My son wants to be a rockstar :) A very thought provoking post, enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Rockstar sound cool. I wish he sustains that. But I guess he will move on but his choice is defintely not the conventional.

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  10. I agree with you Susan. I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid but being accident prone, I visited the hospital so often that my dreams of being one just went away. You can say I am still without ambition. I have done all kinds of work and I am happy.

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    1. "Without ambition" sounds impossible to me. But how many are brave enough to say that, Rimly. Bravo.

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  11. Ambition is something that should come within, not thurst by parents.
    Too ambitious too is not good (or it will be like that cartoon.....blinded by ambition)

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    1. Oh yes, being too ambitious is a killjoy. Wonder how many parents/children realise this truth.

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  12. None of my children said they wanted to be criminal or addict either but here we are. I myself wanted nothing more than to be a mother...what was I thinking?? Nah I love my "job" of homemaker and mother. I love the freedom it accords me to pursue my other whims of fancy, like photography.

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    1. Yes, being a mother gives a lot of time to pursue one's whims. I like the way you have phrased the comment.

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  13. When I was a kid.. I just wanted to be... the drive to be different . The fact that I have held many roles... is what has made me what I am today. I went from a Esthecienne, Make up Artits, Sales person in Selfridges, Montessori Teacher, Spa manager and now here.. and when I look back each of those roles developed my ability to be in my present role!
    Kids when you ask them the question.. seem to answer the question easily and with passion...

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    1. My gosh! That's quite a handful, Sav. And as you have rightly mentioned, every role teaches you something and one is richer that what one was previously.

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  14. I once asked a little child what he wanted to be whenever he grew up and he responded, "Oh, I still want to just be me!" ...So often we forget WHAT we do is not WHO we are.
    I am not sure I will ever be done being all I want to be but it is great to have options and kids don't realize how many they have.

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    1. That is a wise little kid who knew what to do!Yes, kids are very restricted in their world-view because they are not allowed to explore enough. Most of what they know is from their parents and sometimes parents influence the kid's decisions a lot.

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  15. Susan, I am still discovering as to what I want to be..And I will never force my views on my daughter,will let her decide..I can only guide her.

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  16. Interesting. I feel having an ambition is part of the growing process and depends on what we are exposed to at a particular time. My daughter used to like cleaning when she saw the maid and would copy he. then she shifted to doc when she liked how a a particular doc handled her. sometimes she speaks of being a teacher. Unless we try all our options in our mind we will not narrow down to what we really love doing. i have myself drifted from one ambition to another, one professional line to another and what finally ended up doing, even i was surprised was exactly WHAT i REALLY loved doing. I feel our inner compas will take us eventually :) SMILES

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    1. Quite right, Jerly. Children should grow up with a variety of choices before they finally decide what suits them best. But it is sad that some childrena re not allowed this drifting when they are growing up. They are forced to choose at a very early age.

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  17. Its taken me a long time to reach a place where I want to... be me! There are activities I enjoy and things I do to meet my needs and the needs of my family.

    I had not thought about this until just now, after reading this, I like the idea of sharing ... What do you want to be when you grow up? **ME** with my daughters. I try not to 'tell' my daughters what to think and feel. I'm hoping if they are introduced to free thinking that they will come to their own choices. I know that I influence them by example, so I think it is important for my actions to match my words. Great post... got me thinking.

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    1. I guess the best way is to let them be and discover for themselves. Sometimes when we perceive of any job as trivial, we tend to influence our children as well. Let them explore, find out and then choose when they are ready to do so.

      Welcome Amy. Glad to have you here. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

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  18. I love what I am doing. I know my job as a Mechanical Engineer in a hot forging plant comes with its own troubles and struggles, but still the challenges it offers and the happiness when I fulfill them is definitely worth the troubles.

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  19. So true...sometimes our motivations and desires for what we want to become evolve, as we evolve. I am just trying to cultivate a passion for learning in my children and passion. When they say they want to be something I just give them a smile, and say that's great...but don't hold them to it when someone asks them what they want to be...assuming that they still hold that original position. Many a times something different comes from their mouth, and I think that's great. They are too young and will decide most likely a million times over something different until they find their passion and niche. Heck, I'm still deciding what I want to do! :)

    I think it's important for parents not to impose their own unrealized dreams on their children ...to just help them build their wings so they can grow up to soar to whatever heights they choose.

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    1. You are a model mom, Jessica. I just wish parents were like you in encouraging their children to observe, explore and choose.

      And no matter what parents and even freinds should not try to impose ambitions on children when young.

      Thanks for coming by after a long time, jessica. Glad to read your comment.

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  20. Susan,

    When I was a kid I wanted to be a rock star. I do not think my parents gave a lot of smiles and glowing nods when I mentioned this (on any one of a thousand separate occacions).

    There is a balance between "evolving to be" with
    "working towards a goal that will require sacrifice and effort to achieve." I think sometimes parents pushing the "what do you want to be" aspect are attempting to encourage the latter. The two, however, are not mutually exclusive, as you so wisely illustrate.

    Thanks!

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    1. Yes, you are quite right. Today when I hear many people complaining that they weren't allowed to do what they wanted, I can see the sadness veil their faces. When ambitions are thrust on kids, it can scar their personality if they are not happy with the career they have opted.

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  21. Well said. We need to have some motivation, but our childhood dream shouldn't be restricting our options.

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    1. Yes, Ash. But imagine the majority of our Indian kids have ambitions even before they go to school.

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  22. I still don't know what I want to be...I think I would have enjoyed being a journalist because of my passion for writing.
    I met a girl who told me since she was a kid, when all her classmates wanted to be doctors, lawyers, etc. she wanted to have a taco truck and to this day, she still wants one, but her parents would support her college education, but won't consign a taco truck

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    1. Yes, sometimes even I think that I am still in a dilemma.
      A taco truck!!! I just wish she gets it. Like her, I guess many of us have our own taco trucks.
      What if I want to be several things at the same time. Why should there be only one path that I can follow. Can't I take some diversions?

      Joy always :)

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  23. There is a quote: "When elders ask kids on what they want to become in life, they are actually looking for ideas for themselves" :P

    When I was a kid, I told one person who asked me this question, that I wanted to become an astrologer. She tried to convince me that it is not a glowing profession anymore, etc etc. But I was adamant. The next day I found out that astrologer is astronomer, which is what I wanted to say!! I went again and told her this and she seemed satisfied this time.

    I feel that our careers are decided by events, circumstances and so many other such factors over which we don't have much control. Somehow I feel it's better that way.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Astrologer sounds great. Are you one today, Rajesh?

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  24. when adults want "to be kids" its quite natural that kids want to be adults.... we always want what we cant have right now. i wanted to be a spy (like james bond) when i was a kid and it was a sad day when i learnt that real spies do not live like that. but i didnt let myself be restricted by my own ambition or even my imagination..i have often put myself out of my comfort zone in an effort to what they call "finding yourself" and the path though thorny has been fun....although i have a degree (or 3) in medicine- i have also worked in the ad field/ sales & marketing, television/print journalism, and assissted in all sorts of family businessees run by friends and relatives- most of these jobs on a non-remunerative, just for the experience basis. i have met and made friends with a wide variety of people have heard a fund of stories and one day when i retire and start my real career as a novelist, all this homework done is gonna help me rock (i hope so)

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