I’ve recently come across an annoying phenomenon. Okay, maybe not a ‘phenomenon’, but one too many backhanded humblebrag posts on my Facebook newsfeed. No, I’m not referring to fitness selfies or ‘my baby blinked today’ posts; something much less tolerable in my mind, “ambition-shaming”, as I care to coin it.
I like to define ambition-shaming as one person making subtle, yet still holier-than-thou statements that judge someone else’s goals and aspirations. My chosen career path has always been entertainment, fueled by a love of being on stage and doing the thing that makes me feel most alive, and most “Kelly”. The cliché saying goes, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I, and many others, can attest to this. While the path I’ve chosen is in no way easy (trust me, spend a month in NYC trying to book a gig, and the appeal of the 9-5 calls to you like a runaway train forging full speed ahead), once you book that job, the hard work aspect doesn’t feel like ‘punching the time clock’, it feels like…passion…and fulfillment…and the true meaning of being fully in line with what you were called to do. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Those in entertainment are not alone in this feeling. I have friends from all different educational paths who are equally as passionate about closing a high-end business deal, creating a fun meal as a chef, working with children…. the list continues, as I am about stepping onstage. Are any of these more admirable than the other? Nope. So stop with the ambition-shaming.
I recently stumbled across a couple of girls who were beginning their residencies and about to become full-fledged members of the medical community as MDs. Awesome. Not an easy task. It takes a special type of person to be able to handle the rigors of med school and feel called to such a profession. I then overheard said girls discussing how quality guys would be lucky to have them because they are in a field where women are “career-oriented and actually have a brain”. As a confident girl, who is proud of her brains, talents, and a slew of other qualities (as well as my quirks – of which I have many), I usually do not let comments like this annoy me. I am a FIRM believer that women who talk about other women say much more about the girl saying the negative things, than the person being talked about. However, if I’m being honest, it did frustrate me. Just like the girl in the soon-to-be white jacket, I also identified the thing I loved, spent four (okay, five) years in college training for my chosen field, and have since always been continuing that training and education through classes to keep me competitive and at the top of my game. Ask anyone in this field, and they will have the same story.
The more I let this exchange fester in my mind (fester – terrible word), the more I wanted to tell these girls how ironically misinformed they were and educate them on how little they knew about the world. In their minds, the ‘calling’ they have in their lives is somehow higher than other ladies- the girls who have channeled their passions in a different direction; and sorry, that is BS. Based on these ladies’ logic, if we all were at the optimum level of achievement, we would be doctors as well.
A society cannot function without a variety of working parts – people working in tandem with the goal of doing meaningful work that contributes a service to others, and hopefully makes themselves happy in the process. What good is a scientist if there is no one in town to stock grocery stores to ensure they eat? What good is a sanitation worker if there are no bank tellers to deposit their paychecks? Although anyone can argue that the value of each job differs in society, the bottom line is, a community cannot operate without people having varied skill sets and dreams. Myself, and others in my profession, have worked their
toned from spending years in dance class behinds off in a way that these chatty Cathy’s would probably last no more than one day. But would I judge them for that? No. (Minus just now).
I will be the first to admit that I can fall trap to this. Although I love the career path I have chosen in the realm of entertainment, I often feel the green-eyed monster rearing it’s cute little head when I see another accomplished gal pal finishing up her law degree or working as a reporter or on camera host. Both are career paths I am interested in, but alas, my love for the stage won out. Perhaps a trait among all goal-oriented folk is the drive to always be looking ahead and devising a plan to conquer the next lofty goal. Complacency is the indignation of dreamers and achievers. But, at times it feels like a double-edged sword. In a perfect world, I would be a vocalist with a law degree who hosts a weekend show on the E! Network. But for now, I will chose to be happy in the fact that I have had a dream and a game plan since I was a young girl, spent years upon years training, made numerous sacrifices, logged countless hours in NYC and LA at auditions and have been able to make a living doing what I love as a result.
Despite your chosen field, the most alluring qualities of all are dignity, self-respect, and hard work. I’m happy that I can discuss global events, politics, football stats, and my love for science, right alongside my not-so-secret devotion to teen dramas on ABC Family and the CW #noshame. But I’m most proud of the fact that I am a woman who knows that building other women up and supporting each other is key. And In terms of “getting a quality guy”, well my
yet to be identified guy may not be dating a gal with a stethoscope around her neck, but I would prefer one who wants an intelligent, fun girl with ambition, who he will never have to walk in on throwing shade at other girls.
**Steps off of soapbox and exits stage left**