Clunky heels and high shoulder pads. A navy suit with a boxy cut.
How did these become the images that pop into my head when I hear the word “ambition”?
I’ve been thinking about this for days, and here’s what I’ve landed on: I picture something totally dated and abstract because I never really related to the word ambitious. Some odd ‘90s version of the word is frozen in my head.
Ambitious women knew what they wanted and did everything it took to get it. They were lawyers, doctors, high-powered businesspeople doing business-y things.
Meanwhile, I was the girl who preferred a good book to the company of most people, who did well in school, who had determination and a crazy good work ethic but no direction. I wandered. I was creative, not lawyer/doctor/CEO material. I couldn’t relate to ambition because I thought that ambition meant I needed something I didn’t have (direction) and would have to sacrifice the one thing I knew I wanted (a family).
So: smart, dedicated, even talented? Yes. Ambitious? Someone else, not me.
And that’s not entirely our fault. We’re told that motherhood will squash our ambition, waylay our careers, dampen our drive. We’re fed the idea that either we’re a cookie-baking, minivan-driving soccer mom or a hard-hearted career woman. We’re supposed to choose: lean in all the way, baby, or get out.
I did get out. And then I leaned all the way in to something new, of my own creation.
Oh, and I drive a minivan (and love it).
I have dreams, big dreams, dreams so big that they might seem crazy to most people, and I finally threw all the “shoulds” and “supposed to’s” aside and said “Fuck it. I’m going for it.”
I’m a wife and a mom and a dream chaser, a seeker, a road-less-traveled explorer.
I want a big career and a happy family. I want to see the world and remain rooted. I want to daydream and take bold action. I want to think big, love big, live big. I want to do it all, on my own terms and in my own time.
I am ambitious from my dining room table, where I work late at night, fingers flying across the keyboard, piles of clean laundry piled behind my laptop.
I am ambitious during naptime, when I listen to podcasts while cleaning the kitchen, stopping to jot down notes when an epiphany strikes.
I am ambitious in the early mornings, which I dedicate to myself, and which make me a better mom, wife, friend, writer, and best of all, a better me.
I am ambitious on behalf of other women, devoting time to be an encourager of dreams, a safe space for fears, an inspirational kick in the pants when it’s needed.
That’s okay and it’s better than okay, it’s revolutionary.
We are the new ambition. Rule breakers, even if we never intended to be. Shoulder pads not required— they never were. But if you can pull them off… girl, rock them.
MotherHustle panelist Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs create online content that keeps it real. She also leads workshops that help mamas lead a lit-up life, and is mama to two. You can find her on her website or on Instagram at @stacyrfirth.
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