Monday, December 1, 2008

Ambition and Responsibility

I read (in a murder mystery no less) that today women are given men’s ambition and women’s responsibilities.

I’m not a stay-at-home mom and I’m pleased my son is none the worse for wear. While I love creating and writing in isolation, I need the interaction of the collective to take my theories into fact. That’s true of me as a playwright and director; it’s doubly true of me as a public speaker; and it is certainly true of me as a business manager.

Is my drive to talk about ideas in a larger forum a male ambition? No. It’s simply how I am. (My dearest friend is a stay-at-home mom and her son has done equally well. She thrives in the relative solitude and has produced some amazing things.)

Sometimes, expectations are thrust upon me - “you should do X” or “you must become proficient at Y to succeed”. If I agree to take on those expectations but they don’t become ingrained as part of my own goals, perhaps it’s then that I’m trying to live up to someone else’s model.

But otherwise, my ambitions are no one’s but my own!

Women’s responsibilities are well documented: family care; elder care; household duties to name three of the top items that occupy a women’s day. As much as society has evolved, studies still show women as primary caregivers in these areas.

I am trying to imagine a world where a line thrust ambition solely on men and responsibility solely on women. I think both sides would protest loudly. Ambition itself comes with responsibilities - whether the ambitions lie in friendship; parenting; partners; or business. Relationships and caring come with ambition - to do it well; better; efficiently; joyously.

While building my personal community, I have been careful not to fill it with people who make the same choices as me. I revel in everyone’s version of ambition and I debate solutions for all versions of responsibilities. That’s how I learn. That’s what I hope I pass on to my mentorees.

Ambition and responsibility are building blocks of any woman's life and are never merely given to us from external sources with any expectations but our own.

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