Sometimes our best traits and characteristics can also be our meanest demons. Something I have been known for is my ambition. I've wanted to do it all and never settle, always looking for that next step up. This relentless thirst for success has taken me places, quite literally. I've lived in France, presented research at conferences all over the United States, and even took a stand for women's and LGBT rights at the United Nations. I have one bachelor's and two master's degrees under my belt, completing all of them suma cum laude. I have worked as a professional writer, editor, and photographer. I became a full professor at a for-profit university at the age of 25. All of these things have been amazing experiences as a result of my fierce ambition.
Rarely is the darker side of my ambition recognized. Striving to get to the top for me is a strange climb. It's as if there is a rope that's come down from the clouds promising to lead me to the top--to great things if I just climb high enough. The trouble is, there is no "top"--just an endless line of rope.
As you all know, I have a chronic, incurable genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It causes chronic illness, fatigue and pain. My ambition and my EDS are not friends. They are constantly playing tug-of-war for my attention.
Eleven years ago, after my high school graduation, I made myself a time capsule to open this year. In the time capsule was a bucket list full of things like "Travel to France," and "Get a Tattoo." There were things on the list that simply are not realistically achievable (Go the Olympics. Pshhh....) and there were things that I no longer have any desire to do (Go Sky Diving). My bucket list needed some revisions.
Trying to figure out what to change or add to my bucket list, I discovered my well of ambition has run dry. What do I want on my bucket list now?
- I want to spend quality time with the people and animals I love.
- I want to be present and mindful of each date (not "checked out").
- I want to use every minute I have wisely. With EDS, so much can happen to my body in such a short amount of time that tomorrow is even less a guarantee than it would be were I able-bodied.
- I want to do as much good for others I can without completely depleting myself.
- If I have the energy and resources, I'd like to engage in my hobbies--reading, writing, photography and research. If not, that's ok too, so long as my first four are met.
- If I have the time, energy and resources, I'd like to travel more. If not, that's ok too, so long as my first four are met.
That's about it. At this point, I don't know if this is me growing up or giving up. I don't really care what the answer to that puzzle is. This is where I am at right now and I've accepted it--embraced it even.