“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Many years ago, I remembered reading an article that lamented about how people’s ambitions tended to diminish as they aged because they became increasingly constrained by the chains of reality. At the time, I didn’t quite understand how reality could lead people to abandon their dreams.
Right now, as I reflect upon my own ambitions – both past and present – I begin to realize that my current dreams are narrower than my past ones. In Grade 12, a friend asked what I wanted to do in the future. I replied that I wanted to have many careers, including becoming an actor, teacher, CEO, pilot, stock investor, traveler, inventor, and even politician.
But if you were to ask me today what I want to do in the future, I would be lost for an answer and then try to divert your attention to my current short-term goals instead, which are to land an internship working with embedded programming, practice Chinese, people skills, and speech-presenting skills.
Although these goals are educative, they pale in comparison to becoming a pilot and a politician. My inability to speak about where I would like to see myself in the future is proof that over the past couple years, I had unknowingly diminished my own ambitions, just as that article I had read years ago had lamented.
This realization leads to two questions:
- Why did I diminish my ambitions?
- Is it good to restore past levels of ambitions, and if so, how to do it?
The answer to the first question is that as university picked up and as short-term deadlines piled one on top of another – study for midterms, apply for internships, prepare for interviews, work on hobby projects in preparation for future internships, cram for finals, repeat – my focus became constrained to the short-term benefits of overcoming these deadlines, gradually forgetting to look for the bigger picture. Like corporate executives who focus solely on quarterly earnings at the expense of overseeing long-term strategies, I too was always preparing for the next immediate gig instead of thinking about what I really wanted in the upcoming years.
While gaining more life experiences, I come to learn that becoming good at a skill is not easy because it takes a significant amount of time and discipline to develop new skills. It’s much easier to enjoy the idea of becoming an inventor and say that I want to become one than to actually go through the steps of becoming one.
This leads to the second question: Is it good to restore past levels of ambitions? I think it is. It’s good to be ambitious, to have inspirational dreams, and to reach for the stars, as long as they don’t cloud our judgement or poison our character with dangerous thoughts. Having large ambitions inspires us do more than we thought we were capable of, overcoming our inhibitions and feel more fulfilled. To become more ambitious, I will aim to dream bigger – momentarily forget about any limitations or fear – and then think about how to work towards those dreams.
Okay, it’s late now. Good night!