Ambition is the New Black

by Ashley Roling

Although I don’t store any desires to go to law school, I can recite Elle Wood’s LSAT score and sharply picture the celebration that ensued among her friends. A 179. “What, like it’s hard?” Just like Elle Woods, her real-life imitator Reese Witherspoon has forged her way to the top of her class against all odds. Like owning a successful production and multimedia company, cultivating a Southern-style clothing and home goods brand, and racking up sixteen Emmy nominations for one miniseries to briefly scan the list. Witherspoon epitomizes female ambition, to put it delicately. Two years ago, she gave a, now viral, speech asking a crowd of young women, “what would happen if we encouraged all women to be a little bit more ambitious?”

A poll concluded that 90 percent of millennial women felt empowered when publicly recognized as ambitious when given the choice of other related buzzwords. The notion that a woman with ambition is self-indulgent and only out for herself is sinking. Arguably, women are called to action to water the seeds for younger generations. For example, an Institute for Women’s Policy Research study found that, “it will take 44 years- or until 2059- for women to finally reach pay parity” at the present rate -- even longer for women of minority backgrounds. Yet, women spanning the workforce -- Beyonce to Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- are speaking out and fighting for an equal dollar. Despite coming from life’s different contexts, struggles, and privileges, women across the world have never been more unified towards change (if you need further proof, take a look at the fearless thousands gathered for 2017’s Women's March).

So, what’s stopping us from shaking the world?

Many from the previous poll attributed “fear of failing” or “lack of confidence” as rationale for being less ambitious. Because ambition feels exquisitely intertwined with deeply personal desires and goals, rejection can be a sobering and vulnerable exploit. Especially as the world is quickly tuning to a note of productivity, success, and personal achievement that is dishearteningly unrealistic to accomplish in every undertaking. While women shouldn’t be defined or misled by these standards, female ambition is swiftly tugging equality towards tomorrow’s horizon.

The truth is that you may get a 143 on your first LSAT preparatory exam. However, the plot and your often-underestimated self-worth don’t have to end at that.

The dare is to not quiver into a backup plan; instead, declare aloud what you set out to accomplish and ambitiously embark upon achieving it. Somewhere on the way, you may fill a sincere void and work with a purpose no one was prepared to appreciate until you showed them how.

Ashley Roling