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AMBITION

Ambition is a tattered chapter in the story of my life. So many long forgotten earmarked pages, so many roads never taken.

Regrettably, many pages were violently torn out and tossed away, forgotten like a dream upon waking.

They were the stories that pointed toward possibilities, ambitions that never came to fruition, at times of my own volition and other times out of my control. Ultimately it didn’t matter if a particular choice was mine to make or made for me, the result always felt like a failure.

When I was seventeen years old, I chose to drop out of college after attending for only two weeks. I was always an ambitious student, with aspirations to accomplish something great with my life. But after meeting my soon to be future husband during the summer before my senior year at the ripe old age of sixteen, I happily let him derail me.

I was deeply and madly in love with this young man whom both my parents happened to hate at the time but knowing this only made me love him more. So instead of pursuing my dream of going to school on the west coast, I chose a local college ten minutes away while they allowed me to continue living at home.

That lasted exactly two weeks. I had been kicked out of the house for minor infractions several times during that last year of high school (like refusing to walk to the store to buy a gallon of milk), so it didn’t exactly come as a surprise to anyone. The writing was on the wall.

I immediately began working full time and found an apartment. We were engaged on my eighteenth birthday and married two years later when I was just twenty.

But my ambition to accomplish something great with my life soon felt thwarted, and I struggled to find my purpose. Without a degree, I would hover at or below the minimum wage for years until I happened upon a job offer from then-president Ronald Reagan and my ambition in life shifted. I no longer cared as much about making a difference; I cared about making money.

Starting pay for an air traffic controller was almost fifty-five thousand dollars a year no degree required. The application and hiring process was strenuous lasting almost a year before I was finally accepted. I left for the academy in Oklahoma City, all the while asking myself, was I sure this was what I wanted?

My answer was always the same. I didn’t want the job I needed the job. As a young woman without a lot of choices, I felt like the choice had already been made for me. I needed a way to contribute, and this was it. It had to be.

Two weeks after arriving there I dropped out and returned home.

I was doing exceptionally well in the program but one afternoon I happened to overhear a woman in line in the cafeteria talking about how much she missed her babies and how difficult this type of career would inevitably be on her, and at that moment something inside me clicked.

The very next day I booked a flight, packed my bags, then handed back the keys to my apartment and flew home.

Another story that had taken me so long to write was torn to pieces and discarded.

A couple of months later I was pregnant. But since it didn’t require hard work and determination to achieve my pregnancy, it never really felt like an accomplishment.  Yes, I would now be someone’s mom, but still, what was I going to DO with my life?

As it turns out I’d have to wait longer than I’d planned to find out.

I miscarried on Christmas morning. I was fourteen weeks along when, without warning, the sweet story full of promise and potential that I’d been telling myself, suddenly and without warning morphed into a nightmare as I labored to give birth to what was already dead.

Eventually, I would have my happy ending, but I would never trust that it was a given ever again.

I gave birth to my beautiful daughter three days before Christmas the following year, and for the first time in my life, I felt fulfilled. I’d never felt happier. I had found my real purpose through pain.

Another year later and pregnant again, as the heat from the candle on our daughter’s first birthday cake warmed my face as we sang happy birthday to her, I felt an eerily familiar warmth spreading between my legs.

Another spontaneous abortion. Another story ending before it began.

Defiant, we tried again and a little more than a year later I gave birth to our beautiful son. We had our two precious babies, and I was their mother. It was and is a job that I never exactly felt qualified for, but no other single thing has enriched my life more.

Still, I always felt the tug that it was not enough, that I was not enough. It felt like something was missing. I still had to prove myself to the rest of the world, didn’t I?

Looking back on this now is so painful. I’ve been so hard on myself for so long how could I not see this and stop this sooner?

I would start working full-time from home to be with my kids and would continue to do so for the next sixteen years, but it wasn’t enough.

I would design and help build our new house, but it wasn’t enough.

I would homeschool both my children – my daughter until she started college and my son until he started high school – but it wasn’t enough.

I would help both my daughter and my son start businesses, but it wasn’t enough.

I still felt like I was required to do more.

Until now.

“What is worthy of a life’s dedication does not want to be known by us in ways that diminish its actual sense of presence.” – David Whyte Consolations

I understand now that there is more to the story, to my story. Much, much more.

For all of my adult life I have wrestled with my ambitions or more to the point – lack thereof, but now, when I allow these words to wash over me and sink in, I see what’s been unseen for so long.

What I’ve been doing behind the scenes all these years has taken dedication and determination and yes, ambition, and all the while I couldn’t see it and appreciate it for what it was.

My purpose then and now has always been to be the best human being that I can be.

To be who I am.

To be the best possible version of myself.

And that is enough.

And I am enough.

“Everything true to itself has its own secret language and an internal intentionality with a secret surprising flow, even to the person who supposedly puts it all in motion.” – David Whyte Consolations

I even have a tattoo at the center of my back that says “be who you are” drawn in my handwriting at the center of which reads “Love.”

And the name of my daughter’s equine massage business that she began at the age of sixteen happened to be called Go With The Flow.

Both signposts that I ignored before now.

Now, when I reframe my story to reflect this, I feel validated and supported in ways I am unable to describe. I feel ready and willing to go with the flow and allow the rest of my life to unfold instead of always questioning it or fighting it.

“We find that all along, we had what we needed from the beginning and that in the end we have returned to its essence, an essence we could not understand when we had undertaken the journey.” – David Whyte Consolations

I’m beginning to understand this now, and I like the new direction this story is headed.

 

NEXT WEEK: ANGER

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

One Reply

  1. Jeff

    Love it!!! Love you!!!!

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