What If I Don’t Have Ambition?

Concerned about my lack of ambition

When I was in elementary school, I was convinced I’d be a fashion designer inspired by the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, C*c* Chanel (long before I learned she was a Nazi), and Kimora Lee Simmons—a unique variety, I know. While my sister Megan was always writing stories in college ruled composition books, I binge watched (as much as binge watching existed in the early 2000s) Project Runway and sketched simple clothing designs on model sketchbook pages. As my ambition and aspirations changed, I went from dreaming of becoming a fashion designer to a pastor (before I became an atheist!) to a musician to a sports journalist to a college football coach to a college athletics SID to a public defender to my most recent years of flailing without any sense of direction in life! How fun for me (and for my mom who always has to hear me complain of such issues on our daily FaceTimes)! I’ve always had multiple interests and hobbies that helped inform my life dreams, but they’ve also limited me as I know I’m not particularly exceptional at anything. I know I am pretty good at certain activities—cooking simple meals, writing blog posts and sports recaps, offering social services to people who need help, and singing as much as I can. But I’ve never been amazing at one specific hobby or skill. I will never become a chef, I won’t win any awards for my writings, I’m not pursuing social work, and my singing voice won’t ever get me to Broadway. And the longer I work and somehow age more into my 20s, I fear that I’ll never be satisfied or at peace with the position and/or organization/workplace I’m in (these were my thoughts when I had to get over leaving my previous job), which begs the (title) question: what if I don’t have ambition? What if my dreams for my non-retirement version of life ran out when I learned that I don’t have one industry I want to pursue and therefore won’t ever be an expert in anything? What if I don’t want to be an expert because I don’t want to do anything at all?

I was recently in a workshop where we were asked what our biggest dreams were. My answer would’ve been completely different every year of life, but I at least would’ve had an answer. All I could think of—which is truly my dream—was that my biggest dream is to retire as soon as I can. I didn’t say my biggest dream is to coach a college football team or work for Baylor Athletics as a full-timer (had to sadly give that one up) or be in the pit or company of a Broadway show or be on ESPN like I might have in the past. Perhaps it’s because I’ve worked for four years and am already jaded inside or because I truly can’t envision a dream of life for myself anymore, but retirement genuinely feels like my only goal. Is it a waste of my life to exist just to retire? And if so, how do I find some type of purpose or ambition that would point me toward a direction that makes sense for my passions and interests? My sister achieved her lifelong goal of writing and publishing a book (with a second on the way), my childhood best friend Kaiʻolu wants to be a doctor so she’s in med school pursuing that objective, and my mom decided she wanted to go back to school for a new career after several years working and she’s been an incredible teacher ever since. It appears most of my closest loved ones have always had ambition for their lives and I hope that I’ll have the same at some point!