Home Issues Complacency: The Death of Ambition – By Ginika Ebunilo

Complacency: The Death of Ambition – By Ginika Ebunilo



I was supposed to post this blog months ago, but life has a way of slowing you down and keeping you from the the things you want to do. I’ve made my way back to this piece, but I will admit that this post was too real to write. It was extremely hard to write this because I had to ask myself questions about my career goals and life choices:

  • Am I where I want to be?
  • Am I where I feel I am supposed to be?
  • These questions, while simple in structure, were difficult to address and left me questioning everything I thought I felt about my life.

I envy the simplicity of professional careers. In saying this, my intention is not to belittle the effort it takes to become a lawyer or a doctor by calling these career paths simple. As someone who has friends who recently finished, recently started, or currently works as a doctor or a lawyer, I fully recognize the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to achieve success. My meaning is this: these professions are simple because there is a clear path laid out and instructions to be followed to reach the end goal:

  • Go to professional school
  • Participate in residency/internship
  • Participate in a fellowship
  • Work in private practice or at a firm/hospital
  • I may be skipping some steps, but you get my jest.

I have grandiose ambitions that will take blood, sweat, and many tears to achieve, but I have no doubt that I will eventually achieve them. However my path to reaching those goals is less clear. This is the cause of much stress and many restless nights. As I make unguided decisions related to my future, I often wonder if my life decisions thus far have lead me down an irreversible path. A path to a life that is less than what I want and what I am capable. Let me give you some examples.

My college choice

If I am being honest with myself, my college decision was based more on wanting to leave my parent’s house than my actual future. Cal Poly Pomona was a good school however could my life have been different if I choose to attend one of the UCs that accepted me? Likely. When I chose to attend Cal Poly Pomona, I told myself it was just the stepping stone. That I would go to a “better” grad school. This is still the goal of course, but I am realizing that my stepping stone was really quick sand when compared to the boost provided to the Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA grads of the world.

The sad truth is that the system favors people who attend the Harvards, Stanfords, and UCLAs of the world. There is a prestige associated with these schools that recruiters and admissions officers alike gravitate towards; making it difficult for anyone outside these ranks. I am vehemently opposed to the current system in America. A system that judges a fish on its ability to walk, on the part of the ocean where it was raised, and on the shape of its gills. However I also understand that one must adapt to the system if she is to successfully infiltrate and eventually affect real change. My college choice has lead me to so many wonderful life experiences, yet I often feel that my choice has also made my future aspirations…not impossible…but more difficult.

My first job

I started my career as an account coordinator in an niche agency and as I made strides towards advancing there, I lost count of the number of times I spent 12 hour days filled with putting out fire after fire only to return to my desk the next day and realize small sparks from the previous day had created several more infernos. This was agency life, and I told myself that the long hours and low pay served a purpose, but I no longer think that is true. I learned so much there: about being an adult and about myself. But this agency was not my end goal nor did it have the right name to propel me to where I want to be in life. I often feel that my first job has made reaching my future goals…not impossible…but more difficult.

I now have another major life decision to contemplate and I become mentally paralyzed when considering which path will yield the best outcome for me and my future family.

Path 1: Get my MBA and expedite my career advancement

Path 2: Remove the shackles of corporate America and make my own way to financial security and wealth; forgoing the comforts and security of 401Ks, company perks, medical benefits, and stable income.

Entrepreneurship is my end goal. I know it is possible to do this successfully without the backing of a strong MBA network, but I also feel it would take longer. So who knows, I may eventually do both. The paths to an MBA or entrepreneurship is naturally difficult and it’s painful to think that my college choice and my first job may have made my journey toward either more so.

In spite of these feelings, everyday I make moves to get closer to achieving my goals. I have no doubt that I have the drive and ambition to make it, but I will admit that the complacently I see everyday is trying to sink into my consciousness and make the mundane seem acceptable. That’s what I really want to talk to ya’ll about.

I look around my cube filled office everyday at people so complacent and content with their current situation and I wonder “how long did it take them to get here?” “At what point did their life plans go astray and lead them down this path? And the most frightening question of all: “Will my life decisions lead me down a path where I eventually join them?” I constantly have to win my mental battle to not become such a person. A person who comes into work every Monday already wishing it was Friday and verbalizing this sentiment to anyone who will listen. When I hear co-workers make comments like this, I commiserate of course but in the back of my head I repeat the promise I made to myself; never allow yourself to be the co-worker wishing for Friday evening on Monday morning.

I know many people reading this will feel that I am belittling their life choices. I am not. I am just being authentic to who I am by admitting this is not the life I want. I want to achieve my grandiose ambitions. I want world-changing. I want paradigm shifting. I want extraordinary. All of my life an upward trajectory has fueled my existence. “Be the best at what you do, or don’t do it at all” are words that drive me every day. So it is almost painful for me to be in an environment where (in my perception) people choose complacency and have stopped trying to be great.

Sometimes I wish I could be happy and content with being simple, but I don’t think I could. Maybe for a little while, but eventually I would be plagued with the thoughts “is this it?” “Is this really how I want to live this one life I have been given?” For me, the answer will always be no.

Ginika is an avid writer on her blog Finding Ginika. Ginika writes about her life experiences and striving to become her most authentic self. When she is not writing, Ginika is managing Okeze Bracelets: an organization she and 3 partners started to support merchants and small businesses in Nigeria. Learn more at http://www.okezebracelets.com/about-us

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  1. I love how you concluded this piece-“eventually I would be plagued with the thoughts “is this it?” “Is this really how I want to live this one life I have been given?” For me, the answer will always be no”.
    You nailed it!


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