I know, I’m a little late to the party re: picking a theme, and for that I apologize. I’ve been kicking the idea for this theme around in my head for a while, and this is the one I keep coming back to. Enjoy!)
Ambition. For a man, it’s usually expected. For a woman, it’s a dirty word. Ambition brings to mind Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place, the titular Gold Digger in Kanye West’s big hit, Anna Wintour, the not-so-secret inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly. As if a woman with ambition is either looking to screw a man out of his money and become a trophy or else is a cold, unfeeling bitch. Women we love to hate.
In my life, I have seen ambitious women like my mom overcome obstacles to achieve her goals without the assistance of a man’s money while maintaining her humanity. As a kid, my idiot peers would straight up tell me I’d never amount to anything, sneering at my drawings and laughing at the way I did everything. It took me a long time to calm that negative voice that had been cultivated over the years, and when I fell to major bouts of anxiety and depression, ambition was replaced with survival. Just get by. Just make it through the day.
As I make my way into my 30’s, I’ve really begun to examine my dreams and ambitions. I was too immature and the scars of failure were too fresh in my 20’s to fully embrace my goals. I took rejection so personally I became afraid to try again.
Well, it’s time to try again.
I see women like Rita Moreno and I want to cheer. Ambitious, inspired, talented! As a kid, I was obsessed with I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball gave the boot to expectations and stereotypes to create I Love Lucy, also bringing a successful Latino to television. Boy, was Lucy ambitious! She would get her comeuppance and people would clap and hoot and laugh. She made us all laugh at how far she would go to make her dream come true. My favorite episodes always culminated when she got to be in the show; the Cuban Pete number still brings tears to my eyes. That crazy Lucy. She finally fucking did it. (Of course, she made herself so sick in the attempt that she couldn’t do it after that, but dammit, for that one moment, Lucy stole the show). Yes, that show is still rife with stereotypes (domineering husband, less svelte sidekick, hot-tempered Latino), but so much of that falls to the wayside for me when I consider how bold it was for its time. Lucy was unapologetic in her ambition, both on the show and in real life. The genius of it was that, while Lucy Ricardo was begging for a little bit of the limelight, Lucille Ball was clearly the one in charge, calling the shots.
So, ambition. What does it mean to you? How do race and gender affect your view of ambition? Do you feel ambitious?
For me, ambition is honoring your dreams, working for what you want, being bold. Ambition doesn’t have to mean putting others down or not being in touch with your emotions. In fact, it’s listening to myself and really doing some soul searching that has gotten me in touch with my ambitions.
Go for it!