Be Grateful and Ambitious. This simple sentiment from Abby Wambach has been living in my mind ever since I read it the very first time. As we step into another month dedicated to the history of women, I can’t help but think about the lessons that I want Olive (and Owen) to understand about the journey women have walked throughout history.
Everytime I read these words from Abby’s book, Wolfpack, I can’t help but linger on the idea and ponder the meanings of and connections between ambition and gratitude in my life and for women around the world. In the book, Abbey is referring to the fact that, as women, we are taught to be GRATEFUL. Society has taught us to be grateful for the opportunities “given” to us (perhaps by a man) and not to speak up or rock the boat. But this idea of being both GRATEFUL AND AMBITIOUS is so new to me that I am literally shocked.
Right now you’re probably wondering, why is this shocking to Allison? My shock is there because initially it feels selfish and boastful to be ambitious when we should just be grateful Who am I to ask for more when the women who came before me had so little in the way of opportunities. I am so lucky that as a woman in today’s society I am able to own my own business and live my dream.
But then I think about this way of thinking for a moment and realize, WHY NOT? Who am I to shrink away from these opportunities? If these historical women were here with us right now, what would they say? They would tell us that they didn't break down walls and glass ceilings so we can play small. They would say to fight, to speak out, and to STAND IN OUR LIGHT!
That is the meaning of “Be Grateful and Ambitious.” Yes, we must look to our past and pay our respect to the greats of history who blazed this path for us, but we must also be ambitious, pick up the torch and lead our own way. While we walk on the path that has been laid for us, we must also be the ones that continue to pave new paths for our daughter, so that one day the paths are further, wider and many. We do this not just for ourselves, but for all women, all girls. And it is our duty to continue the ambitions of our “fore-mothers.”
So I am teaching myself to be ambitious, to ask for a place at the table and to use that place to create more seats for more women. And as a mother, I will work to teach my Olive that she has a right to EVERY opportunity her brother has, that she has a right to use her voice and her power to get it for herself.
But, like everything else, this has to start with me. I need to stop playing small, so I can appear grateful. I need to deeply understand that I worked hard to be where I am. And while this is due in part to so many struggles that came before me, I have also endured a lot to be where I am today. It was both my gratefulness and my ambition that supported me and I will continue to stand in the light, for myself, for my Olive and for all women and girls!