Overambition: The Death Of Us All?

May 27, 2013 8:30 pm

In a world full of issues and problems, no one seems to realise the one problem that affects us all, the rich, the poor, even the in-between. It is undervalued and under appreciated and, as a result, it seems to have grown in us, become us. That problem is over ambition. ambition

From a young age, children are taught to aspire, to ‘reach the stars’, to embrace life and all its opportunities. But there is a time and place in which we must stop and teach reality. No good can come in raising people’s hopes so high that when the inevitable failings come nigh, it all comes crashing down.

Dream careers of surgeons, ballet dancers and astronauts are only for a small percentage of the public. In reality, sales, cleaning and admin jobs are available, but many still try and reach for the hidden stars they had heard about at a young age, even if they are destined to fail.

People are afraid of reality, of its bitter truth and its darkness. So much that they have to create a fantasy world where their hopes and dreams are alive and that everything is candy-floss and butterflies, or something along the lines of that…

While some might say I am cynical or pessimistic, I prefer to think myself a realist. Reality isn’t depressing; reality is life. And we are taught to embrace life.

While we may work hard in life, the world isn’t the oyster we once thought it was, and simply having a degree in a subject is no longer a passport to success. It’s not so easy to make the right choices and do well in life because in life, circumstances lead to wrong decisions. It’s not so easy to succeed, to win, to be rich.

ambitionWorking to a goal, no matter its size, and fully living up to your potential, can lead to many great things – but overambition will set you up to fail. Not many people are astronauts.

But if you aspire to go to university, get a degree, get a job and start a family that’s not overly difficult. Not really…

Whilst ambition is healthy, overambition isn’t. So in regards to the title’s question: will it be the death of us? Who knows? But it is worth a try, to do the very best in life no matter what obstacles surround us.

It was Helen Keller who said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Ambition will give us new jobs, new technology and a new world. But it is up to us to steer clear of the poverty that ambition creates and not to fall at the first hurdle.

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  • James Dawson

    I remember being in sixthform five years ago and having to attend long presentations delivered by teachers on ‘our future.’ Being shown charts and tables that showed how much an undergraduate degree would do to further our chances and opportunities. Statistics that justified paying what at the time was £3000 in tuition, plus £3000 in loans, every year. Because “we would easily earn more than the tuition cost us over our lifetimes.”

    Ambition made us eat it up, we were working-class kids who believed university was the pathway to a better job than the one our parents had before us. How stupid we feel now. The majority, even those graduating with First Class degrees, faced with the prospect of low-paid service sector jobs, or unpaid internships.

    • Back then, I’m sure University was the way to go when jobs were being handed out, but now, like you said, regardless of educational status, ‘the majority of us are faced with the prospect of low-paid service sector jobs, or unpaid internships.’ University isn’t the passport to success like it once was, and while I agree it is good to have some ambition, we must also be taught reality.

  • ed
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