On Ambition

- 3 mins

Somehow, this past year has made me less ambitious. Maybe it’s the pandemic and its impact on mental health. Perhaps it is growing up and realizing your limitations, that you were never really hungry enough to pursue your dreams against all odds. That to be truly hungry comes from the overcompensation of unhealed wounds—that only an unhealthy ego would wish for more power, fame, or riches. Perhaps it is the giving in to the mundane. Or maybe it is recognizing the exquisite beauty of an ordinary life—how rare it is to have a life filled with joy and laughter, surrounded by people you love, in a place you call home. Maybe it is the wisdom in knowing that you exist in this life not to achieve or to do more, but to be who you are meant to be. To give and love, deeply and widely. To experience life in all its flavors, to hold confounding perspectives at once, and to shine a light in a cosmic void.

Perhaps, I have become ambitious in other ways. Not to exploit workers and bring me wealth on the backs of others—but to create change that truly helps everyone. Being at Harvard has made me indignant, angry, and unsatisfied with the state of the world. Despite the amazing professors and countless resources (or perhaps because of them), even being at this institution makes me hate it, the elitism and hypocrisy that comes with it, and the knowledge that I was no better than those who did not have the same opportunities. It’s made me question everything, made me dissect my upbringing and look at past histories with a critical eye. But the people have changed me indefinitely, and the kindness and perspective I have gained from the individuals in this institution make me believe that there is good in the world.

With graduation coming in a few months, I still do not “know what I want to do with my life”. This is a question that plagued me from an early age, a question I have turned over and over, hoping that it would somehow fall into my lap if I asked it enough. A question I always felt the need to have an answer to, to feel certainty over to feel worthy (or perhaps to feel like my life is worth living). A question that I boxed myself into, like a self-imposed stereotype, like the many personality tests that I’ve poured myself into in an attempt to understand my inner workings and define who I am. As if answering the question would bring me some kind of purpose—as if life itself was not enough. I still don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll do after graduation, and that’s both freeing and scary. But I know that whatever happens, I will be more than okay.

I still feel so young, like it was only yesterday that I graduated from high school, that I only just started college and got my driver’s license. My life feels like it has barely begun—there are too many places to see, things to do, and people to meet before my time is done. Yet, I also feel so old. Doors continue to close while others open, and I feel strangely nostalgic—not for the past, but for the present moment that slips through every second. It’s funny, the omnipresence of death, the thought that our transience is what makes life so special. And in many ways, I am inexperienced and naive and hopelessly unprepared for the real world, beyond the bubble that is university and my hometown. I feel as if my past self would be looking now and wondering how I still feel as clueless as I did back then.

Only now, I do not wish to know what I want to do with my life. I don’t know what I will do, but I do know how I want to live by. I wish to live with intention and clarity, aiming in a trajectory that aligns with my higher being. I want to grow in wisdom and courage, and age with grace. I live, quietly counting my blessings and preparing for more.

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