Freshman Faces Pitfalls and Benefits of Ambition

Paula Montoro

High school finals can be rather stressful, and Robinson, along with many other students at Loy Norrix, are getting ready for their exams. Photo Credit, Paula Montoro

“I know I have big goals. I want to be someone important,” said Koryania Robinson, a freshman who is already sure about her life goals.
Robinson lived in New York City for seven years where she had access to more cultural events and was exposed to very different experiences and people. Although she likes a lot of things about Kalamazoo, like the Kalamazoo Promise, she hopes to leave Michigan and move back to New York City someday.
“I want to study medicine or law,” said Robinson. “I do want to study at a college out of state. I think that there are a lot of things to learn and see out of Michigan.”
Ambition is the strong desire for achievement. It’s an attribute that can either be seen as a positive quality or as a sign of excessive competitiveness. Ambitious people are the target of hard criticism but they are equally admired and esteemed.
Today’s teenagers are the most ambitious in a century. Huffington Post journalist, Jessica Elgot, found that nearly 80 percent of modern teens say career success is important to them, compared to 62 percent of baby boomers when they were adolescents. It’s probably no coincidence that teenagers now report being more stressed than what their parents were at the same age.
Robinson considers herself as an ambitious teenager; however, she is aware of the challenges that teenagers must face before achieving their goals. Robinson is still hard on herself sometimes and she shared that she is often her own worst enemy.
“I know that it’s going to be even more difficult for me because I’m an African American woman, but I want to prove them wrong,” Robinson said. “I think I know how to handle failure but I’m very hard on myself sometimes.”
What worries her the most is her future. This fear is very common among teenagers. According to the article “What Do Teens Fear?” from the website Stage of Life, 66.3 percent of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.
Robinson has always been sure that she wants to go college and she knows she would feel really frustrated if after all her work she doesn’t get to achieve that.
“I’m afraid of not going to college or not having an stable job in the future. I could get over failing some exams because I know that failing is part of life, but I would feel so bad if I don’t get to go to college,” Robinson said. “I’ve been dreaming with that for a long time.”
Ambition can cause stress and anxiety. Moreover, the fear of failing stops teens from trying. According to a study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, around half of American teenagers suffer from stress or anxiety due to the high expectations of their parents and society.
“I feel like I have big goals and sometimes it’s frustrating when I fail,” Robinson continued, “I know I’m gonna fail in life, but as long as I try and I work towards what I want that should be enough.”
According to the article “Ambitious Adolescents,” written by the psychologist Carl E. Pickhardt of “Psychology Today,” for many teenagers that’s not enough. Ambition can be dangerous.
“There are two problems with ambition in teenagers,” Pickhardt said, “First is the issue of how high they set their expectations and how hard they put themselves to meet them, the problem of pressure. And second is the issue of how they treat themselves when they have failed to meet their expectations, the problem of punishment.”
Pickhardt likes to remind teenagers of the importance of knowing how to overcome failure. Teenagers need to be constructive, learn from the situation and improve their self-esteem.
Robinson is sure that it won’t be easy and she is prepared for some failure, but she won’t give up.
“I’m sure it will take a lot of work to achieve success, but it will be worth it all,” said Robinson.