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Thread: I'm not sure if my ambition is healthy any more. What would you do?

  1. #1

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    I'm not sure if my ambition is healthy any more. What would you do?

    Hello all. I'm sure you have all had variations of this conversation 100+ times, but I would appreciate some advice.

    I am a 28 year old female Army Officer. I’ve been in for about 5 years and I do love the job. I am among the fittest women in the military and keep being asked when I am going to put myself forward for specialist training and be one of the first, pave the way for other women and so on. It is an honour to be so highly regarded in a very male-dominated environment, and most of them really wouldn't say it if they didn't mean it. Specialist/infantry training has been on my mind for a while, however what a lot of people don’t know is that I have had an on and off eating disorder and quite serious depression for about 6 years, which got to suicidal point this year. My fiancé and I actually had to cancel our wedding because I was so ill. We are attempting a re-arrange for next year, but with both of us in the armed forces it is tricky. We have been talking a lot recently about starting a family.

    Part of me really wants to push and strive and compete and be the best woman out there - to have the balls to be the one that did it, and be 'A Great Woman' for evermore, but another part of me just can’t bear to compete anymore. I made myself so ill trying to be the best/thinnest/fastest/most extreme all the time and there’s a growing part of me that just wants a nice life with a kind job at home. I don’t know if I would be letting a lot of people down in this current situation if I do though. I'm embarrassed that I seem to have lost my ambition. I am also aware that leaving the Army and having a baby is unlikely to solve anything.

    Anyway, would appreciate people’s thoughts and advice. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? J x

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Hopefully you are seeing doctors and therapists regularly for this. Take advantage of the medical benefits.
    Originally Posted by JJT2908
    I have had an on and off eating disorder and quite serious depression for about 6 years, which got to suicidal point this year.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    It's never about what other people want for you. It's about what you want to do. Follow your own priorities and passions. You don't get to choose other people's goals and career paths, so why do you think they have a say so for yours?

    Do you really see it as losing ambition? Isn't another path just a different ambition?

    Are you actively attending psychiatric sessions and attending eating disorder therapy sessions? I wouldn't make any major decisions like marriage until you get to a good place emotionally, well past an eating disorder and depression issues. You need to concentrate on getting mentally healthy before adding the new status as a wife, a huge life change, into the mix. Take care.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about the turmoil. That said, at least from this vantage, I see this as a good time in your life.

    My feeling, at least from my own experience, is that ambition doesn’t so much fade with time as change shape as we go about the forever business of self-discovery. When we’re younger—teens, early 20s—a lot of ambition is invariably fueled by ideas outside of us, be it becoming a ripped Specialist, a famous novelist, or a billionaire tycoon. We kind of pick some goal that is both socially/culturally “impressive” and roughly seems to dovetail with who we are, and then we “attack” that goal with the hopes that in “defeating” it we’ll come further into ourselves. It’s viewing life as a competition, where harmony is linked to winning. It is a limited approach, in my opinion: good for building the engine but not for sustaining the journey and spirit.

    I’ll get personal to avoid abstraction. I was a machine of ambition when I was young, going after something artistic the way you’re going after something militant, and the way I went after physical accomplishments in sports as a kid. I was by all conventional measures “ahead of the pack,” doing something at 19 that is considered pretty “out there” or “up there” in someone who is 40 or 50. I did well, “achieving” some things that brought a lot of validation. What was interesting and deeply confusing to me is how that made me feel: not nearly as “full” as I thought. A little lost, in ways. Probably some version of something that could fall under the rubric of depressed. That was me at 25-30: killing it, at least to outside eyes, while feeling a bit like something critical inside of me was dying, or at least not being properly nourished.

    Looking back—I’ve got 12 years on you—I can see that as the time where my ambition began to change shape, when my path became lit more by a light inside of me than by outside guides and lampposts. I started seeking things that made me feel good, sincere, authentic, without much care how it looked to others. These things aren’t as easy to explain, and don’t win you awards or praise at parties, but that’s because they aren’t for other people. Guess you could say I made tending to my own spirit my main “ambition,” with “accomplishments” measured in things like friendships, pursuits that bring about a sense of joy and wonder, be it my garden or weekly surf sessions or motorcycling through a mountain pass. That’s kind of what I starting living for, a shift that brought about a much greater sense of contentment. That other stuff is critical too—from paying bills to affirming one thirsty component of my identity—but it became part of the whole rather than the purpose, if that makes sense.

    How that might pertain to you? Well, I’d look at some of the things your experiencing—depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorder—as life trying to tell you something vital: that you are neglecting parts of your own spirit in order to please others or “accomplish” something that doesn’t really reward the unique thing that is you. The thing that built the engine may not be able to fuel it. Does that mean throwing out the Specialist dreams and becoming a housewife? Maybe, but it doesn’t need to be so extreme. It can also mean removing all that from the center of your identity, and finding other things to go after to shore that up. Balance, in short. The fuel.

    That’s kind of how it was for me. The great realization was that what I do for a living was never, ever going to bring eternal joy or harmony. It would bring other things: money, validation, an endless challenge to push myself to the brink, something I’m hardwired to need and seek for stability. But I just needed to balance that out with pursuits that were geared toward spiritual calm, toward self-nourishment, harmony. I needed to build the engine so I could understand the journey.

    Final thought: I think much of getting older, and coming into ourselves, is accepting that most rewards come from a process rather than an achievement. Take marriage. If you’re hyper focused on thinking a wedding will solve some existential dilemma you’re forgetting about the awesome thing that comes after the wedding: the living, breathing, constantly changing thing that is a relationship. It’s kind of about shifting the lens so comfort can be found in questions (Where am I going? Where are we going?) rather than answers, since life is never really “answered” but only “lived.”

    Not sure if any of that helps. Take a lot of deep breaths right now, and take care of yourself. That’s the forever thing, the forever business. What other people think about you, or see when they see you, will always be a fraction of what you think about yourself, and see when you look in the mirror.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member mustlovedogs's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if my ambition is healthy any more. What would you do?

    My understanding of specialty forces training has a lot to do with mental health and mental endurance. Breaking you down to see if you get back up even stronger.

    It’s an honor to be in the specialty forces, but a lot of commitment and a lot of risk. It sounds like you don’t want that - which is absolutely fine. What if, instead, you focused on your health and your relationship and then worked with your local military recruiters to help increase female enlistment? That, too, is paving the way - in a much more accessible way, honestly - and you get your personal life too.

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    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    While it's great to enjoy the compliments of how you are viewed by others, it does NOT obligate you to live up to anyone else's vision but your own. Since nobody else is living your life FOR you, nobody else gets a vote.

    Don't buy into flattery to the degree that you ruin a healthy perspective that would otherwise make the most healthy choices for yourself. Taking that kind of bait is likely what derailed you in the first place, so consider working with a therapist on learning how to find and respect your own private motivations rather than latch onto the kind of external ego food that would have you believing that the only true measure of success is a willingness to bludgeon your body and spirit in exchange for accolades.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    What gave you the idea that being thinnest is in any way healthy or has anything to do with fitness? Serious question. I've spent most of my life competing and this thought has never crossed my mind. While training, I eat like a horse and could easily eat a whole horse as just a starter to the rest of the meal because I need that much energy and it gets burned daily. However, I've seen female athletes, entire careers, life, and long term health wrecked by this absurd idea permanently. Young women break bones due lack of nutrition, all because they get it into their head that thin = fit and that they must starve themselves in addition to hardcore training. The price of that is literally them getting themselves crippled for life, unable to have children, body wrecked and not because of the sport or training injuries, but due to this mental idea that couldn't be more wrong. You have access to mental health counseling - please use it to resolve this issue for your own life, sake, and well being.

    Harming yourself just to get a compliment or live up to other people's expectations is NOT ambition. Ambition is completely internal - what do YOU personally want. Having a family is ambition. A 9-5 job of particular kind is ambition. Being a top military officer is ambition. In other words, ambition is about you defining your personal goals/wants/ lifestyle and then achieving exactly that regardless of what others think about it. Ambition requires the mental/emotional strength to stand up for what you personally want, for what you personally believe in, for the life that you personally want to live and doing what it takes to carry it out. Ambition is not set in stone either. As you grow, your ambitions, goals, life ideas will change and a large part of success is being able to embrace change. Effective, successful people tend to succeed at anything they do precisely because whatever they decide to pursue they will do it with purpose and determination, aka ambition. They don't give a flying rat's rear end what anyone else thinks about their path or whether other people agree or disagree with their personal change of direction.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    I'd start off by doing some soul searching. Forget what anyone else says. The fact of the matter is you and your hubby are employed and are active and productive members of society. Start thinking of yourself more and what you hope for in the future. My first suggestion is to incorporate any skills and look into any lateral moves. Maybe you need something more intellectually stimulating than specialist/infantry training.

    Congratulations on your engagement. I think you just need to utilize yourself more and you may be barking up the wrong tree. Aren't there other avenues for training if you wish to progress? Remember to take time outs and check in with yourself - what makes you happy. Good luck.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member ThatwasThen's Avatar
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    You clearly don't want to carry on and do what you have been praised to be able to do or you would have just done it by now. You are suffering in depression so adding more stress to your life is counter productive to you being the best you that you can be (and that includes having a baby when you're not mentally in tip top shape to do so. The hormones will wreck havoc on you to the nth degree IMO).

    Don't do it. Not any of it. Sit down and figure yourself out with the help of your benefits and that of a good therapist which will help you to not end up another military statistic to suicide.

    In the meantime, congratulate yourself for what you HAVE accomplished so far, I thank you for your service and I wish you the strength to turn down any pressure to do what THEY want you to do. Time to make this about you and whats best for you and your emotional/mental health... no failure in that, luv.


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