Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe I'm Not That Ambitious

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be the First Woman President. I supposed it was possible that another woman could beat me to it, but … oh look! No one has.

On Saturday, Matt and I went to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. I've lived in College Station for five years and somehow had never gone to see it. I figured it needed to happen before Matt graduates and we, inevitably, move somewhere else.

What stood out to me the most about the whole experience?

That guy did an awful lot of stuff before becoming Commander in Chief. I mean, a LOT. He was a military man, an ambassador to China, head of the CIA, Republican Party Chair, VP to Ronald Reagan, and a lot of other jobs that had him traveling all over the world and meeting with foreign diplomats. Dude changed jobs like, every year or two before becoming Vice Prez and, eventually, President.

I had never thought about the steps it takes to actually become President (not seriously anyway, as it stopped being my goal in life around the time I was in intermediate/middle school). I assumed that one probably got involved with local or state politics and worked their way up to Congress or the Senate, until there was nowhere left to go but the Oval Office. (I'm not super familiar with what all comes between here and there, but that was my thought process. I used to cover the school board and city council when I was a newspaper intern in high school, and I assumed those would be good places to start.)

When we left the museum, I told Matt that I had harbored this secret fantasy as a child, but that now, having experienced Bush Sr.'s museum, I wasn't sure how ANYONE managed to be president without having a crazy amount of experience working with foreign leaders and our own countrymen. (This is not a commentary on any current, future or past president, just thinking out loud.) It suddenly seemed like a much more daunting job than I had ever thought. I had not gotten this sense from the previous presidential museums I've visited (LBJ Library in Austin and the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Illinois). Matt suggested that maybe people like us just weren't wired to go into politics. He's studying engineering, and I studied advertising. Maybe we just don't have the mindset that politicians seem to possess.

Answering the phone in the Oval Office … at Madam Tussaud's in Las Vegas. (November 2010)

Maybe I just don't have that kind of ambition. Maybe I'm not that ambitious in general. I don't dream of "having it all." I don't even know what "all" I want out of life. I am happy running my own little business; I would be happy to someday work at an ad agency again. But do I someday want to be a CEO, or be the boss of hundreds of people, or run a country? Do I want to run backwards in high heels and play the corporate games? No. Does that mean that I am not ambitious? Is it okay to not be that kind of ambitious?

I'm curious what you think. Do you think you're ambitious? What do you dream of accomplishing?

If you're ever in the College Station area, I would recommend checking out the museum. It wasn't as moving as Lincoln's was, but I didn't know very much about G.H.W. before going, and now I feel like I have a better sense of who he was and what he did. I think it's worth checking out.


  1. I definitely think that not everyone is cut out to be president, but I think there are lots of different ambitions. It takes a lot of persistence and organization to run your own business and work from home! It's all about what you want and what makes you happy in life, I think.

  2. what a fun and insightful and honest post - i never wanted to be president, but i remember telling people pretty early on that i'd like to become an ambassador. and you know what? i think i'd still like it :) you just run to and fro and make amends and try to keep the peace. sounds lovely, right?

  3. I love this post! And it's so cool that you wanted to be president; I was definitely not that ambitious as a child. I think it's okay to be different kinds of ambitious though. Any kind of work takes a certian amount of ambition, and it's okay to have goals that don't involve "having it all" or being in a position of power. Or, that's what I keep telling myself. Haha.

  4. I wanted to be the first female president too! I had the plan to run as soon as I turn 35 (minimum age eligibility), which just happens to be an election year. It drove me to pursue law school, even though by then my ambitions (or expectations) changed by that point. I still want it 'all' out of life, but my definition of 'all' is constantly evolving as I grow and my dreams change. I think as long as you are going after what you love and what you want out of life, you're ambitious :)

    1. Ha, well if it couldn't have been me … ;) I would vote for you! I've briefly flirted with the idea of law school, but I don't know what I would do once I was done, and can't justify it without having a good reason for going!

  5. Good question. I've worked in politics since I decided that politics was my thing. I think each presidency has been different in terms of "how does one become president?" But i've thought about it a lot too. its a big job, and i think it seems super ideal before you actually get into the position. I've only been alive for three total presidencies but i can tell you, those men went in looking a whole lot better than they did coming out..
    now, onto your question about ambition- i think ambition is whatever you make it. i used to base my ambitions on what i though would impress my family/friends/co-workers, and then i quickly figured out that i needed to do some inward searching and figure out what i wanted for myself as opposed to what i thought i needed for myself. i decidedly paved my own lane, and its really helped me to shape my goals for the future. i think if you're satisfied with your ambitions (big or small), and you feel that in your heart of hearts , than you're good. sometimes it is hard to determine whether you're short-changing yourself or not.. i often wonder how things would have panned out had i pushed myself harder in high school/college... but then i think that things are actually pretty great the way they are. the universe, i tell ya. it has a way of working things out for us!


    1. Very true, you can absolutely see how the job took a toll on the past few presidents; Clinton, Bush and Obama all left the White House looking much older than they did when they first took office.

      I think, overall, I am satisfied with my expectations and ambitions. It just seems sometimes — especially with all this Lean In, can-you-have-it-all stuff going around lately — that being content with where you are presently is almost seen as not good enough. But you know? If you can't enjoy where you are, are you really living?

      Thanks for commenting, good things to think about.

    2. (Obviously Obama is still in office. Typo, whoops! But statement still stands.)

  6. I really liked this post and the responses you have gotten so far. I can't say I am overly ambitious either but I am happy with where I am in life and that's enough for me :-)