Friday, May 1, 2015

The Erosion of Ambition.

I've never had much of a relationship with ambition. Since as far back as I can remember I've always had a laid-back approach to education and work. When I was asked whether or not I wanted to attend regular high school or the "International" program, I said regular. Why make things harder on myself? I didn't think about my future, or prospects, or the way in which things line up for you as of an early age, I just didn't think about.

This is pre-depression. This is me 11, 12, 13. I've always been a sensitive kid, kind of bossy and opinionated. Depression only started really weighing on my at 16-17, as part of an eating disorder. I’d always been a thicker girl, a size 10 to 12. Curvy. Big chested. I was active, happily chubby. But all of a sudden I felt like I needed to lose some weight if I wanted male attention, to lose my virginity, to go to prom. And that meant acting against my nature. That meant forcing myself into certain habits, in order to attain a specific goal.

From there, things got hazy and lost. From there my concept of my own future never really took shape. It became about impulse control, and then when things started to fall apart, just survival. The issue with taking things one day at a time, is it becomes difficult to plan for tomorrow, let alone have a 5 year plan. Who gives a fuck about a RRSP placement when all you wanna do is curl up and die?

Lately, I've had a lot of feelings about this. I'm trying not to dwell on it, but it’s difficult. Here I am, 31, trying to get my shit together to buy myself a little condo, and have a little piece of space for myself, and my down-payment is just sad. What have I been doing with my money for the last decade?

Logically, I can see my privilege. I was able to live at home while going to school to minimize debt. I was able to go to university and pay for it myself. I was able to go to a technical college and extend my education into my late 20’s. I am a few months from being debt free. This is a privilege.

Things could have been very different. While deeply depressed, I had decided that as long as I was in school, I was doing something productive. So that’s all I did. I was in school, I worked part-time, and I survived each day. And every once in a while, I would look up, and see where I was, and what I was doing.

There was never any real ambition there. It was just, doing what I could, because I had to.

I look to friends who have callings, and I'm envious of it. Working in the social services is brutal. Friends are under-paid, under-valued and get by on sheer will. But there’s a desire there, a real feeling of accomplishment, and that their work matters.

I've always felt, I could really attach myself to anything. I have many interests, and would happily attempt a career in any of them. Yes, right now, I work as a graphic designer. It’s what my path led me to, and I needed a technical “skill.” But I could also be a writer. I'd write a novel. I’d happily be a comedy writer. I could see myself being a painter and working in the arts. I could have stayed in academia, and gone on to get a masters and worked in a social/political field. I could work in a kitchen. I could work in a garden centre. I could easily leave the city and work on a farm, tending to rescued animals of all kinds. I am not tied to any job. I do not identify with any one thing. Sure, there are parts of me that are emotional and creative, but those parts would find creative outlets no matter where I go.

Recently, it feels that one day at a time leads me to days where working (in the short term, every day) and a career (long-term working plans, prospects, goals) often take a back seat and just aren't even considered. There are days that are so difficult, I'm on an edge. I can easily be pushed to quit, or to alienate co-workers in a way I never would normally. This frightens me. I live in fear of this. Of self-sabotage. Of one bad day that sets it all on fire. It's all so fragile, my house of cards.

I don’t even think ambition is really part of my vocabulary of characteristics. I have so little understanding of it. All I really know is taking things one day at a time and hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. So much of my wants, or plans are tentative. If I feel up to it. If I have the energy. If all goes well. My moods and my exhaustion levels play too big a part.

Do I mourn ambition? It seems like I should. What I do have is gratitude for very basic things. I end up invoking that gratitude and being happy I have a job. That’s something. What it isn't is a plan, or a fire in me that wants and climbs. I just want to be quiet. I just want it to be easy. My basic, default state of being is so hard. I don’t want anything else to be harder or more than it has to be. So maybe my ambition has been sacrificed to other parts of me. Maybe I have zero ambition, and instead have a double-sized portion of grit. It keeps me alive, but if I think at what cost, I'm mournful.

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