One of the most common questions to ask kids, no matter what the setting is, is “what is your ambition?” and it was a pretty big deal back then. There were your typical answers such as “doctor” or “engineer” or even “pilot” (that was me). Nothing wrong with wanting to be those things, but as a teacher, when you go around the class and ask them their ambitions, and the same answers come up again and again and again, it gets kinda boring (which is why you gotta spice things up a little bit in the classroom when up against “boring” activities).
There were also your less than typical responses. Some of those responses that I’ve gotten throughout my short career so far are “national archer”, “comedian” and “fashion designer”. The children that gave those responses certainly got me intrigued and led me to ask even further question about how that particular ambition came about, but that’s for another post.
Like I said, it was quite a big deal to have an ambition. Everyone had to want to be something, to do something, that one thing, for the rest of their lives. My usual reply to the question was “pilot” up until 14. I always liked the idea of getting to travel the world. But then I didn’t like the idea so much anymore, since I discovered that being a pilot entailed having to frequently leave your family behind for long periods of time, and I just wasn’t raised that way. Then I floated around, not really knowing what to be anymore for a couple of years. Luckily, no teacher asked that question to us 15-year-olds anymore.
But then Form 4 came and we were asked to really consider what we wanted to do in the future, so that we could either be separated into the technical sciences or the pure sciences (?), or whether or not we wanted to take up accounting as a subject. This pressed me to really hunker down and have a think about what I wanted to do, and I ended up with “teacher”. The thinking behind this was that I observed that I was only good at two things, rugby (but I couldn’t make a lasting career out of it since I wasn’t THAT good) and English. So I chose the latter. Plus, being a teacher also meant that I could spend time with my family, so that was definitely a factor as well.
I ended up signing up for the class in which most of my friends agreed to go, since any stream I chose wouldn’t really affect my ambitions. All of the classes had English as a subject, and that was all that mattered to my ambitions. Later on though, because of some reason, my group of friends was split up anyway, so we could only hang out as a group during recess. Boohoo.
I stayed with the same ambition for quite a while. Throughout college, I maintained that being a teacher was the right thing for me. That is, up until my final year. Then things started to go awry. Well, maybe awry’s not the right word. It was more like, things didn’t go according to plan.
I went for practicum and started doubting my intention of being a teacher. It’s not like I didn’t like the children or my fellow teachers. I loved them. But I just felt like I wanted to do something else too. Up to that point, I wanted to write, I wanted to sing, I wanted to make videos and stuff.
There was a piece of advice that I gave a bunch of people when we were discussing this topic a couple of years back. I told them not to put something concrete as their ambitions. Because then when you achieve your ambitions, whether it be “doctor”, “engineer” or “teacher”, then when you finally get there, you will be prone to get into a comfort zone and say to yourself “I’ve achieved what I want out of life. Now what?” It puts one in a bit of a pickle, so I advised them to pick something that can never be achieved, and I gave them my newly-formed ambition at the time: I want to make the world a better place. Then there can never be a “now what?” because there are so many things that can be done to make the world a better place, I wouldn’t run out of things to do, thus keeping my distance from the dreaded comfort zone.
And right now, I don’t want to limit myself to just teaching in order to achieve that ambition of mine. I want to do more. I want to write, regularly, and get people to read and respond to my writing. I want to write songs, regularly, so as to get people to listen to what I have to say and bring them an experience they’re not getting through listening to other songs. I want to act, and help scriptwriters and directors to materialise their visions.
I just want to do a lot more stuff, but my biggest enemy in being able to do all that stuff is myself. My own lazy, unproductive, untalented, unmotivated self. I need to push myself to get things done, but pushing myself is one of the things that I’m least capable of.
Having said that, I am doing things right now. I am writing. I am making songs. I’m also teaching. I’m not really acting, but hey, can’t win them all, I guess?
I suppose the big point is that I now have one psuedo-ambition that has led to me having several other traditional ambitions. And I think that’s just fine by me.
And if any of my students say that they want to be more than one thing, I’d say more power to them.