“Ambition should be made of sterner stuff!”
The statement that you see above was used by Marc Antony, a devout follower of the great Julius Caesar, as put by William Shakespeare (if you know not who he is, thou shall’st open thy mind and Googl’st him) in his play with the same title as the latter. Through the above line, Marc Antony wishes to express his frustration over Caesar’s posthumous reputation as an ‘ambitious’ leader who was led by his whims to conquer territories rather than by a desire to serve the common public. This statement kind of haunts me today as I juxtapose myself with the world’s teenagers of my age group. Ambition is more often than not treated as a virtue by the elderly and as a ‘driving force’ by today’s future leaders. But, as you might have guessed what might well be the topic of this post, is the question of ambition really being a virtue when viewed from a broader perspective.
WARNING: If you are an ambitious person who’s set out to ‘rule the world,’ your thinking might well be changed forever in the case that:
- You actually find this post on the virtual sea, commonly referred to as ‘the internet’
- You have time to let go of your ambition for a while and read something utterly worthless (no, I’m not buying sympathies, thank you)
- I manage to pull off this post well and drive home the point of it effectively enough
Since my brain, just like millions of other Gen Y teenagers’, drifts from one topic to the other with every passing second, I’ll find it hard to stick to the point. So, please, bear with me, dear reader(s), if any. Actually, I am writing this to myself, though a visitor or two wouldn’t bring much harm.
It appears as though the concept of hard work, kindness, manners, and other such things that we’ve been taught since birth as being the ‘right’ things in life are genetic in nature. Invariably, almost everyone goes through the same initial phases in life, at least in a civil society, wherein you grow up learning all kinds of ‘social norms’ from your parents till around a double-digit age, until puberty strikes. Then you go crazy, expressing your irritation with all that parents’ affection, you start feeling independent and wanting to set out on your own since you’re in control of your life. Your hormones start playing with your brain, your ego develops as much as your body does, and you become arrogant. But people around you tell you it’s just part of growing up, and soon you’ll be mature enough, and behave in a civilized manner. But no, you rebel. You just rebel. You stay out till late night, you get involved in fights, verbal if not physical, just to vent your hormonal frustration and to show that you have an ego of your own. Only after you reach maybe 20 do you realize that it was all unwarranted.
So, in all of this, where does ambition come into picture? It probably crops up just after puberty, when the so-called transition from childhood to adulthood is complete and you look around for colleges to enroll in courses that you supposedly were born for doing. Once you’re in college, you start feeling that you need to ‘leave your mark’ on the planet, that you are ‘special’ in your own ways and can ‘make a difference’ in the lives of people. Ahh, so hackneyed, these phrases, but still used, nevertheless. It makes me wonder very often. Our parents’ generation, the Millennial one, had a completely different set of circumstances when they grew up – the technology wasn’t so sophisticated back then, the Cold War was still a thing, and the internet was just cooking in one of the DARPA labs. Things have changed. Changed a lot since then – nowadays, you’d find it hard to trace a literate teenager who isn’t on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest and the like. But this is just one small part of the sea change. The world population has probably doubled; you see too many people on the streets these days – but that’s beside the point. A major impact of this has been on the social environment – earlier, if someone said that they wanted to make a difference and come up with something revolutionary, people would believe them as it was believable. But today, if someone were to say the same thing, they’d be rest assured that it was already implemented in some other part of the world.
Now, I’m not saying that research is utterly useless – that is a different issue altogether. What I am saying though is that youngsters expect too much from “life” these days. Our parents were brought up in relatively humbler environments and that has probably gone a long way in their being able to cope with difficult circumstances. But for our generation, since we’ve been offered almost everything on a ready-made platter, we have never gone through the hardships that our parents have. And if you were to say that “ultimately it’s all the same across generations,” I’d like to remind you that our grandparents’ generation has seen one of the worst wars humanity has ever witnessed – circumstances were even worse for them. But since then, humanity has come a long way and probably it’s at the peak of what could be convenience, in general. You get everything at your fingertips these days. But, I digress. My point here is that since we’ve had such comfortable lives, we expect “success” to come to us as easily as our lives have been. But, considering so many millions of copies of ourselves spread throughout the world, is this a realistic scenario? I would like to be pragmatic here and think that it’s not going to be easy leaving a mark on humanity as an individual. Not to say that “it’s all pointless anyway, why bother?” but that we need not attach ourselves too easily to the definition of “success,” but rather try our best, and if it doesn’t work out, just accept it and move on in “life.” We think of ourselves as being too special, even though we know there are a million other people exactly like us throughout the world.
If you’ve got my point, Hooray! If not, Google a few keywords and get the idea through. That is what matters, not my ego.
Ego: What did you just say?
Me: It’s all right. No one’s reading us anyway.