Blog Post 44 - Photo 1

Ambition is generally defined as “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” Yet, there seems to be a split opinion on the connotation of this particular trait and online lexis resources associate it, rather arbitrarily, with both positive and negative qualities. For instance, the Urban Dictionary says ambition is “generally a positive trait,” whereas’s primary usage example is “Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.” There is even a “recipe” for ambition on WikiHow, titled “How to Be Ambitious,” that claims ambition is “a skill you develop over time” and one that requires “a strategy.”

My own impression is that society tends to assign negative connotations to ambition. After all, its stereotypical objectives—power, honor, fame, or wealth—can easily be misconstrued as greed or power mongering. Nevertheless, I (and I believe, many others) interpret ambition as a desire to escape mediocrity. The majority of those who have attained elite status and reaped the rewards of ambition started out as ‘underdogs’ who just wanted to prove the world wrong by becoming successful rather than prove it right and simply be a nobody. People who are fueled by ambition to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to have the lives they dreamed of create a statistical advantage for themselves. Envisioning the determined, passionate person they aspire to be, they savor the sense of achievement their work gives them, thus they find no reason to quit, and on this basis, they will almost always come out on top.

Recently one of my sorority sisters published a blog post that linked to an article from, titled “15 Things Ambitious Girls Do A Little Different When They’re Dating,” The traits described in the list are characteristic of a girl going after her dreams and not allowing the limits of society to discourage her. An ambitious attitude can lead any individual to triumph and satisfaction, regardless of the challenges that he or she must confront. Possessing the will, the drive and the courage to “get to the top” will get you a lot farther in life than any technical skill you have or can possibly acquire.

Unwavering determination and a diehard work ethic are attributes I strive to embody. I’d like to think these are positive traits for which I will be rewarded with contentment and satisfaction. However, having such a strong desire for success might make me an impractical, or even irrational, person, unable to realize or accept that, as human beings, we simply cannot do, nor have, everything we want within our lifetimes. Which brings me back to the question, is ambition bad?


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