Hello 2021: On Ambition

The theme of female ambition isn’t new but it got a new spokesperson this year when Sen. Kamala Harris (@kamalaharris) became the first woman VP. I am beyond excited that this milestone has finally been achieved. But I’m faced with some questions.

I am no stranger to ambition. I grew up aspiring to be a concert pianist. Then I went to Harvard. Then I continued to law school, and all the markers of success during and thereafter. I always strived to be the best and I know — I know — that with hard work I can be successful. That may sound really pompous, but it’s simple confidence in my abilities and my training through early life. 

But I’ve been asking myself, where did the ambition go? In the last seven years I have made decisions to prioritize what I know will make me personally fulfilled — being at home with my young children. By all accounts, the ambition that led me to “success” — the same kind of ambition people talk about with respect to the Vice President Elect Harris — isn’t present in my life caring for 4 young kids. It’s like I was ascending up this steep ramp through my 20s and then I jumped off the ramp when I had kids. 

I have come to realize that this account of ambition is wrong. Truthfully, I am more ambitious now than I was ten years ago. It’s just that the world doesn’t recognize ambition in women in their homes. For the world to see ambition in women, they want to see them in a power suit behind a prominent desk — yet again, another relic from our history of men defining everything from our institutions to our school schedules. I’m ready to put my ambition back in plain view.

This year, I have this fire in the pit of my stomach. On some days it is pure mom rage, some days it’s feminist rage. But at the core, it’s my ambition that has gone unrecognized. My ambition that I feel is stronger than ever, with more purpose, but is a flame that is burning out of view from corporate ladders and public office. And I know in my gut that there are others who feel the same way. Perhaps you have a story similar to mine. Or perhaps you weren’t particularly “ambitious” in the traditional sense but you found your ambition as a mom. If this resonates, let me know. 

I’m saying #bye2020 and #hello2021 with some of my most pressing thoughts for reflection and action. If any of this resonates, share and comment below. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published