Literature / Social Injustice

The Legend of Ambitious Women

Are ambitious women just a legend? Or are ambitious women made of the stuff of legend?

“Dear Roberta, this is a very ambitious work…”

Ha, if only I had a penny for every time someone has said that to me or wrote it as a commentary in an essay.

How do you read such a statement?

I have never, in my life, read it as anything but positive. Yes, my work is ambitious, I am ambitious. Thank you very much.

But ‘ambitious’ is the kind of adjective that can assume another meaning when it’s attributed to a woman. An ambitious man is the hero, he’s the guy- he’s the one to whom you scream: ‘go get them!’

An ambitious woman is often a fool, someone who wants more than she should. Someone who does not know her proper place.

Well, that one is almost true. I left any kind of ‘proper place’. I left home when I was 18. I then left behind me the possibility of a safer, economically stable career that my degree in Management could have given me and decided to study Literature.

Ambitious women know ‘proper places’. They just choose to stay the hell away from them.

And, yes, ambitious women want more.

We want more recognition, we want more space, we want more female protagonists, we want higher grades, higher salaries. Why shouldn’t we?

Why shouldn’t I want more? Why shouldn’t I push myself to be the best person I can? Why shouldn’t I push myself to write the best essay I can?

Yes, this is an ambitious project. It’s not perfect. Its execution probably needs refining. But, you bet it’s ambitious.

There is one thing Business School taught me really well, something I have internalised and shall never forget.

One morning, I sit at my usual place, right in the middle, right on the front. My new professor of Strategy comes in, a young woman dressed all in black. On the first slide on her presentation there are these words:

“I am tough, I am ambitious, and I know exactly what I want- and, if that makes me a bitch, that’s okay.” (Madonna)

In this statement there is condensed all you need to know in order to have a successful strategy, she said. Be sure to give yourself tasks that are doable, yes; that are precise in their goals, sure; but also remember to give yourself ambitious tasks. Push yourself to the limits. Know what these limits are; then, above all else, know your limits because, if you do, you will learn what your strengths are too.

Be strong, be sure of what you want, and want more. Always want more.

And if that makes you a bitch, that’s okay.

One thought on “The Legend of Ambitious Women

  1. Pingback: The Legend of Ambitious Women – Priyanka Naik

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