An Ambitious Woman After the End of Ambition
When you don't shift with the vibe.
You may have heard that (female) ambition is over. Hustle culture is dead. The girlboss is dead; in her place, the bimbo has risen. It is the end of ambition. Ambition is so out that we live in an age of anti-ambition.
And… yeah. These are all excellent and highly resonant pieces of writing. I see it all around me, particularly among my Elder Millennial cohort. Women are scaling back, quitting what were once beloved jobs, at least trying to devote more time to their lives outside of work. Some of these women are mothers of young children, and have put work on a steady simmer on the back-burner while they focus on family. Others reached the upper echelons of their career or company only to find themselves uninspired, exhausted, and wondering if this is really it; a few have run far away from where they started, switching careers entirely or quitting with no real plan; others are grinding it out, but with the bare minimum of effort.
There is indeed a vibe shift afoot. And I am finding myself far outside of it, thoroughly un-chill, deeply competitive, and still as ambitious as ever, gazing over the corpse of the Girlboss at a cohort of quiet quitters and wondering: what happens to those of us who are exiting “young adulthood,” looking over the horizon at midlife, and thinking, wait — there is so much more I want to achieve?
“Ambition” has always been a squicky term when applied to women. I certainly reflexively cringe when I hear it used pejoratively, a reaction to years of subtle (and often not-so-subtle) criticism of my own naked ambition and the disgust and rejection routinely leveled at women with the gall to try to achieve something, from Tracy Flick to Hillary Clinton. That means I’ve been cringing a lot lately, because the Formerly Ambitious Woman is either a symbol of a kind of collective generational anti-capitalist enlightenment or a punching bag. As for the currently Ambitious Woman… wait, who?