When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress. I succeeded (as you can see here), and then, just when things were getting started, I decided to give that ambition away. Instead of pursuing my dream of auditioning for NIDA, I chucked in the acting and enrolled at university.
I tried to convince myself that I didn't really want to be an actress, and that I just wanted a quiet life in the suburbs*. In reality, though, I think I wanted to bow out of the fight. Acting is fiercely competitive, and I just wasn't up for it, because the thought of not succeeding was too awful. Better to have never tried at all, than to try with all your might, and fail.
Later, when I was at university, something similar occured. I was studying Social Work, and we had to do several weeks of prac. Being all politically correct, as social work students were, we had to 'negotiate' for the placement we wanted with the other students. There was one hospital prac on offer, and I probably had a good chance of negotiating for it, but I couldn't bear the thought of wanting it so much and potentially failing to win it. So I decided not to even try. I picked a far less appealing placement that no-one else wanted, and left the hospital placement to a student prepared to fight for it.
Once again, I pushed that ambition down.
Fast forward to the year 2009 and I couldn't force my ambition down any longer. I'd had a mediocre career for my entire adult life, doing jobs I didn't really enjoy, in fields I wasn't passionate about. Finally, I acknowledged the drive within me.
I started blogging, and then I started writing my book, and once that was published I started writing another. Now I write columns, and I give talks, and I'm going to write a third book, and I want to take this career as far as I can.
But I hate my ambition. It makes me want success so desperately that it leaves me intensely vulnerable. What if I don't succeed? What if I fail? What if I work my arse off and I still don't make it?
I wish I could shake this ambition. I wish I didn't want so much. I wish I could be happy with a normal, easy job, where I could work a few hours every day. I wish I could be content to focus on my kids and my husband, and not be forever striving, pushing, breaking through the next barrier.
But that's not me. I'm ambitious and I recognise that now. I just have to keep at it, with all the exhaustion and challenges and occasional triumph that ambition brings.
And hope that in the end, it will all be worth it.
*okay, I never thought 'quiet life in the suburbs', as that is something you only read in a book, and I'm not a novel, but you get my drift.