Why It’s Your Right to be Ambitious (at Work and in the Home)
Digital Mums have an empowering #workthatworks campaign in full swing supporting women with social media marketing training and they asked me to share my own freelance tips with them.
They brought a hugely inspiring TED Talk by Emma Barnett, Women’s Editor of the Telegraph to my attention, on the importance of ambition, and the influences that negate or hinder ambition for women, mostly silent and deadly forces too that stop ambition and goals and new careers in their tracks you must watch.
Emma’s poignant talk encapsulates what she deems, a loss of custody of ambition, stating from research that women are just as ambitious as men but it becomes tampered with, lessened, diminished by society and perceived roles in society, and she emphatically advocates it must be retrieved. That we must reclaim that ambition, that vital pursuit of our dreams.
It instantly spurred me on to this post, because those who follow me here and are close to me in ‘real life’ know full well just how proudly ambitious I am. Always have been, always will be.
The daughter of a feminist Sociology and English lecturer and an ambitious entrepreneurial father (both from a long line of teachers) has meant that being ambitious was a quality championed, that coupled with education, meaning that honing talent and sheer tenacity have been mine and my brother’s default mode since childhood.
And that still remains today.
As a 30-something with 2 kids and a husband, I follow my passions unflinchingly, determined to feed and fulfil those creative desires as I endeavour to make my work-goals come to fruition.
I know failure well but I embrace it, learn from it and never fear it. It’s part of pursuing a career that counts (to me) and living of course, overcoming obstacles, adversity, finding a way to work, to craft, to nurture what I hope to gain from life.
…The rewards of course, whatever they may be are to be treasured. For me, it’s been seeing my films on the big and small screen, winning awards from Channel 4 and film festivals for dramas inspired by my own cultural heritage, stories I wrote and directed with world class crew I led which captured my vision, my craft, my journey through the moving image… I’ve had art in galleries, gained an MA with distinction as I just turned 22 and have presented on TV.
Then came this blog in response to trauma (the birth of my first son), sadness and a loss of identity which slowly turned to rediscovery and joy and redefining who I was, with that process of redefinition in joyful, constant flux.
It’s a beautiful thing feeling liberated to create in your own way and on your own terms.
All achievements big and small. start with tiny kernels of ambition, the will and then the act based on that will, to make, create and control our destiny. The power in us all.
Yet writing this and heck, even admitting ambition and achievements as a woman can often feel unnatural somehow, frustratingly proving to be another feminist issue to add to the ever-growing list.
Being ambitious and admitting it, alludes to qualities of ruthlessness, bad-will, bitchy behaviour, bragging and the rest, yet for men, ambition is welcomed, accepted and celebrated in comparison.
I’m not someone who wants to achieve my goals at the expense of others, as a minority of female filmmakers working in TV and film before becoming a pro-blogger, I saw firsthand how women and men too, overcome with envy, would back stab and belittle those (and myself) who were succeeding. It was pretty heartbreaking to witness.
It never broke me though, in fact it built my steely armour, teaching me to shun the negativity and focus on what and whom mattered whilst focusing on my vision.
I quickly formed a group of ‘real’ friends, a network of fellow filmmakers, men and women who shared the ideology that together we could help and support one another, inspire our collective creativity, collaborate and shin. And for the times we didn’t sparkle, we would console one another and brainstorm our next project, buoyed by one another.
…Many of my closest friends today are other creatives I met during my film making MA and then as a professional director and blogger.
They understand the pain, the need to create, to document and release. To get my words, and story out into the world.
Of course, I worry now as a mother, that being ambitious is tainted once again with other people’s disbelief you can work and be a good mother too. Yet again, men, fathers are unburdened with this question. ‘You must be a superwoman?’ they ask. No, I’m a woman, creative, mother, wife and business owner who still have wants and needs, emotional and financial who is juggling, trying her best and making it work, some days effortlessly, others not so much, as many other women do every day.
Of course, this is by no means a dig at Stay At Home Parents whom I admire for doing the greatest job of all.
…I want to be there for my kids and see them grow, and thanks to pro-blogging, I’m able to do just that. Inevitably, it’s hard some days but I feel strong, in control, content, that I have a job that puts me in the driving seat, in charge of my own life, and feel that I’m a better mother for it.
That’s why blogging, particularly parent blogging has been so revolutionary and empowering to so many because a wealth of mothers and fathers have created businesses and careers that are well paid and that work for around their families.
Digital careers offer a stimulating, flexible and fun way to work around a family, as we make deadlines by night if need be, on weekends, when the kids sleep, remotely and otherwise.
Blogging has brought back equality to the workforce.
And even on the s*** days where we bloggers often battle deadlines with babies and feel like we’re failing at both, we take solace in the fact we own a space online, a creative hub that’s unique to us that empowers both ourselves and our readers.
Ambition is growing too, online, in twitter streams and Facebook threads, it’s contagious and exciting… and it’s creating new and unique ways of working every day.
Bloggers with media backgrounds pre-kids or not, now have own their own companies, book deals, appear in ads, own e shops, are ambassadors and more.
I owe so much to blogging, my accidental career.
Blogging has taught me to trust the timing of my life, to follow my heart and always write from it…It’s helped me realise that my voice counts and I can be whomever I want to be, and that a like-minded and interested following will always find me.
Vitally, it’s demonstrated that we are free to be ourselves without the need for validation from others, (I repeat, WE ARE FREE), that it’s OK to go against the grain online if we fancy it, to take on projects others might well shun, and to feel ambitious and happy doing something totally different to what we’d set out to do.
So stop limiting yourself and trying to fit into some kind of perceived notion of who you thought you were meant to be. Because you can be many things, and anything in these glorious digital times.
So give yourself permission to be ambitious and embrace it for there’s work to be done.