Letting Go of My Toxic Ambition
I was agitated by the sensation that saying yes to everything and no to nothing, rising to the occasion, going above and beyond, was supposed to be the worthiest thing about me.
This is , a new series from Catapult magazine on the things—habits, expectations, jobs, ambitions, futures, and more—that people have let go of in the last few years.
It happened in between two emails. The first was from a boss, handing off a task after hours that objectively wasn’t an emergency and was couched in language insinuating that if I didn’t react like I was hearing sirens, my job would be at risk. The second was from a doctor who had just run a series of stool tests, confirming, yeah, something was actually wrong with my stomach and, yep, the fatigue and joint pain and stabbing sensation in my abdomen probably weren’t unrelated to the fact that I couldn’t be more than ten feet from a bathroom at any given time. Somewhere in between these emails, my striving—shaped by “sure, happy to help!” and “no worries if not!” and “just following up!”—was buried, sans rest and sans peace, two elements of life I used to believe ambition itself would earn me.
What am I even doing with my life?
“a million girls would kill for this job”striver
Pull it togetherIt’s okay; it’s okay
What for All the Gold StarsWhat of this moment are you never going to get back? What’s the purpose of what you’re trying to say? What have you put off—calling someone back, moving your body, restingin the name of someone else’s notion of accomplishment?
All The Gold Starsand
Rainesford Stauffer is a freelance writer and Kentuckian. She is the author ofAn Ordinary Age (Harper Perennial, 2021) and All the Gold Stars: Reimagining Ambition and the Ways We Strive (forthcoming from Hachette Books, May 2023).
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