Pitfalls of Ambition No One Really Talks About

Pitfalls of ambition

So you watch Elon Musk walk down the aisle with 21 Billion in cash to apparently buy Twitter and you think, it’s alright, maybe I’ll just buy Facebook when Zuckerberg dies. Or heck, maybe Tiktok if Jack Ma doesn’t buy it.

You know that’s never gonna happen… but, do you? I mean, you see young people around the world like you becoming Millionaires every day. They pitch an idea and bam, apparently, all the cash in the world is theirs to build their dream company ( well, not that easy, but they seem to have it easy, right?). So, so why can’t it be you one time too?

Maybe you won’t buy Twitter, but perhaps buy a tweet? Apparently, people are buying tweets in form of tokens these days anyway. So, you hope. You don’t really hope for a better tomorrow, or watch the sunrise the next day or buy your family a great dinner.

You hope to reach the pinnacle, from where you can make things happen. You know you’re smart, you know you’ve got ideas, and perhaps, with enough money, you may as well continue to execute them. What’s enough though? That, you never know.

Before becoming the daydreamer of being the next youngest Billionaire of the world. I have a cautionary tale for you. A tale that might just save you a lot on your morning antidepressants, so buckle up. In a world constantly pushing you to get better at who you are, I’m going to try and reason with you about why you should continue to be yourself.

You don’t have time for friends

Let’s face it. You have a constant nagging voice in your mind that’s urging you to do something. So you’re overworked, anxious and with too much on your plate, what you really don’t have enough of is your time.

If you’re half as crazy as I’ve been for the past few years, chances are, you track almost every bit of your daily activities from the time you spend studying to how many hours of sleep you got for the night.

And then you look at your to-do list, and well, you slowly realize this week there’s no weekend for you. Well, what do you do? You can’t stop eating, sleeping ( how you wish you could delete sleep eh?) or god forbid, throwing some work off of your plate. So, the first thing that you ax from your life is your friends.

A girl being busy while her friends are calling her.

These days, sometimes, now that I do have some free time to spare, I lament for friends. I even go a step further thinking I don’t have any. But, the funny little thing here is, I had friends, when it was time to have friends. But I never really gave it enough time. So, maybe you get a third call into some distant weekend people asking you if you want to go out, Netflix and chill, but after that, they stop calling.

Well, why shouldn’t they? You clearly had better things to do.

You Probably Don’t Have Time for Family Too

I can’t honestly remember how many times my niece, in her small 4 years of life came up to me and asked if I want to play with her. But I remember how many times I agreed to play. Only 2. And every time else, I was busy, I was working, I didn’t even have the time to say more than a brief no.

Now, she’s four and a half years old and has already learned to play alone or watch TV. Adequately substituting my presence in her life. We barely have any relationship worth cherishing, that too, from both ends.

If you’re living with your family, maybe the curse is a lot less because you still get to see them or have some social greetings during weekends, but if not, if you live away, and if you have to bring work with them during weekends, and everything else, there’s always too little time, so you’re all just boxed up in your own world, trying to prove you can do better, in a false economic race designed to make you lose.

Why is the lack of time spent with friends and family a pitfall, you ask? That’s the story of every successful people, you think? You can’t hope to achieve great things without letting go of one or two in return? Well, that’s what I thought as well. If you still feel the same, you’ll see. I’m not here to make you stop, I’m just here to only warn you.

And maybe give you an I told you so look 5 years from now.

You Always Have Way Too Much on Your Plate

For people who are not as ambitious as you, life has a very easy equation for them. You pass high school, you open yourself up in college, you try to focus a little on your career and study, you pass, you get a decent job, you earn money and open a credit line, you go to nice restaurants on weekends, you save up and buy some nice things, you shop for eid/ puja/ Christmas, maybe go for a vacation once a year.

And repeat. Great life. They’re probably in one job for 5 years and extremely happy. They do their work well, feel secure in life, and enjoy the moment they have with their loved ones.

You, on the other hand, oh you, you already thought too much about this in high school, if you hadn’t, you wasted your first college years feeling guilty why you didn’t do stuff in high school, you focused on your studies, you focused on something that will help your career, by this time, you also want to be self-sufficient, so you start to focus on some gigs here and there and damn, you’ve already burned yourself out and you haven’t even graduated yet. Technically, your life is only about to get started.

But you already set the standard so high. So you just can’t stop. The only way forward for you is through. How else would all the hard work, random internships, meaningless nights, and sacrifices for great memories with friends make sense? As human beings in general, we are never ready to accept a loss of time, because deep down we know time is the only real asset we can have. So, there has to be light at the end of the tunnel.

You Realize You’re Never Happy

By now, you probably already know, you’re not going to be a billionaire, but that’s okay, you’ve curved your expectations about a thousand times lower. You can still be a millionaire right? there’s enough time to be one.

So you don’t let go. You continue to add things to your plate. You forget to even sap social gratification by sharing and celebrating these successes, what’s the point? you’ve been through that before.

Like an addict, now your tolerance is higher, so is the bar to succeed. And as a result, you’re never happy.

But you’re all too tired. Too tired to track yourself. Too tired to spend some money happily enjoying a cup of coffee at an evening restaurant. There’s something inside you, going tick tick tick, and you know you’ve got to work. There’s just too much on your plate.

No one ever really tells you that you become a moving time bomb for yourself. And you’re too ambitious to back down. In the name of sacrifice, you’ve continued to hedge your friends, your family, your experience, your peace, your happiness, and you.

Now, in a parameter of social success, you find no joy anymore. Your bar of success is so high, and your soul is so tired, that you rinse and repeat waiting for the bomb to explode.

But it never will. This is where it gets really harsh but I need to tell this you. It’s not your fault that everyone around constantly talks about growth, betterment & activities. As a society, we have failed to inject serenity amongst ourselves. We have failed to teach ourselves to be satisfied, and if you’re ambitious, you capture these pulses specifically, and there’s no turning back from them.

Even I, shamelessly admitting, that I promoted toxic work hours, glorified overworking, wore my burn-out proudly as most entrepreneurs often do( well, what else there is to do after a 16-hour work-day where you had to lose money in a bootstrapped business, we need our dopamine too) and encouraged people to continue to hustle (and still do), never really looked at the pitfalls until unless I found myself knee-deep into it.

And I wish someone came to me and said, it’s okay. You don’t have to prove anything to yourself. Or anybody. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be now. And you’ll exactly be where you’re supposed to be 5 years from now too.

Born and raised into the middle class of the third world, your chances are pretty low of ever becoming a part of the fabled 1%, and you should make your peace with it. At the very least, you’ll live a life worth living.