Sometimes at work or in the car I’ll listen to podcasts. Most of the time I’m looking for something that makes me laugh to pass the time. That’s what drew me to listen to “I Don’t Get It” a podcast by Bachelor alum Ashley Iaconetti. One particular episode really struck a chord with me and has stuck with me since I first listened back in April.
Former Seventeen Magazine EIC Ann Shoket (a personal inspiration of mine) called in to the show to talk about her new book The Big Life. I haven’t read the book yet, though I plan to. I just can’t stop thinking about what she said about ambition.
In planning and outlining her book, Shoket had dinners with women from various backgrounds discussing their experiences in love, life and work. One thing that seemed like a common thread for many women is how men reacted to strong women and their ambitions.
Shoket described how women she met with would tell stories about dates with men where they started to talk about the things in their life that make them excited. At the other side of the table, more often than not, would be dead eyes. Dude had already tuned out and was so not down for the kind of ambition the woman had. Sometimes the guy would say things like,
“I love an ambitious woman”
“That’s so amazing–really that’s so great. Good for you.”
Totally not patronizing at all. When things actually started to pick up, though, there was a tension and competitiveness around career and goals and future plans between them.
One question that Shoket posed is something I think about all the time.
How do you find the guy whose eyes light up when you talk about your ambition?
Shocket described meeting her husband and feeling an instant connection with him because not only did his eyes light up when she described her hopes and dreams, but he also shared his with her with the same level of excitement.
Let’s talk about this.
As someone who has had clear ambitions since childhood, this is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Ambition in a partner was not always something that I valued in others even though it’s something I value in myself. Because of that, I would attract people who were threatened by my level of education, my goals, my interests, and what my future would probably look like.
A lot of the time, this would leave me in situations in relationships where my partner would compare themselves to me, tell me I would probably find someone better in the pursuit of my goals and that they straight up just weren’t good enough.
Obviously this isn’t the healthiest mindset to hold in a relationship in general. It took me a long time to see that.
Holding on to people who clearly had some of their own insecurities when it comes to their futures held me back from pursuing mine with the fire that I have inside me now.
Being the kind of person that spent so much time telling people I cared about that they were good enough for me actually held me back from pursuing certain things because I didn’t want them to feel bad about themselves. How unfair is that?
And now I’m not going to sit here and talk about myself as if I’m so great compared to others. Anyone who is reading this knows that is NOT what I’m saying one bit. But I have confidence in myself and what I’m capable of accomplishing. That’s why I relate so much to what Shoket is saying.
In relationships, it’s not a matter of someone being “good enough” for you. Emotionally in terms of your connection to one another, now that’s a different story. Your goals and aspirations don’t necessarily have to match up for you to have a solid and healthy relationship. It’s more about your values and what you hold dearly. In terms of what you’re striving for, it’s more important for your partner to share a mutual excitement for you. There should be an excitement that you want to be better every day and better yet, they make you want to be better, too. That’s what I want in a relationship.
For me, the person who I share my life with won’t want me to be any lesser or better version of myself to meet them at their level. They’ll be happy with who I am, but push me to be better for ME, not for them. I plan to be with someone who gets excited when I talk about what makes me excited—whether it’s some crazy accomplishment or the sheer fact that I made it out of bed that morning. In my opinion, a healthy relationship is one where you celebrate the little things and push and motivate each other to do the big things. One where you can’t wait to share the small and large victories of your days. To me, a good partner is someone who is proud of what I do and doesn’t overshadow that with feeling down on their own luck, even if they do feel that way at the time.
Ambition and dedication are two of the most attractive qualities to me, so I have major respect for anybody who appreciates that in others. I find life is a lot more fun when you bring others up instead of bringing them down. So I may not have found the set of eyes that light up for me when I talk about my ambition. Maybe I have and I’m just not sure about it yet. But until then, I’m going to keep busting my ass going after what I want and the right person will be there right along with me cheering me on.