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Isabel Yap @visyap
, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Sharing in case you need this: it’s okay to be ambitious. It’s okay to want things for yourself. It’s okay to dream, and to be slightly terrified about that dream. It’s okay to start dreaming, if you never really let yourself before. ✨
I think a lot of people who are marginalized one way or another think it's either unsafe, selfish, or just not a good idea to be ambitious. And we're fed a lot of stories about how ambition can be people's downfall. And sometimes that's true.
But sometimes, the opposite is true, and we're left never articulating our dreams - never being honest about what we want - because of some vague impression that to do so is wrong. It's for other people, but not for us.
Or maybe it's not that you think it's wrong - maybe you're afraid. To say you really want something (even only to yourself) is to give a shape (and therefore some power) to this dream, and it leaves you vulnerable in a way.
Now that you've said it, and untucked it from the amorphous longing in your mind, you see it for what it is: something difficult to achieve. Something you might never get. That's scary. But the thing is, you don't need to _not_ be afraid.
You can be TERRIFIED OUT OF YOUR MIND and still have the dream. And maybe inspecting that terror a little bit will help you come to terms with it. (Rejection, failure, running out of time, impostor syndrome, etc. - they'll always be there. They shouldn't diminish what you want.)
I know it's risky. For a long time I felt very smart about not having ambitions with respect to writing. I'm a pragmatist! I yell, while shoveling my dreams into a closet that I'm determined not to open, because I don't want to disappoint myself.
But the dreams keep spilling out through the cracks, and I disappoint myself anyway. I'm sad because being vague has made it difficult for things to happen concretely. "If you don't know where you're going, any road will do," as they say.
I can't get to the things I want because I refuse to be clear about what I want. I've given myself too many exits, too many detours; I've reassured myself "You don't have to go for it." But this isn't _really_ making me happy.
I know a lot of it is outside of my control. I know I'm probably going to be disappointed. I can't feel dissatisfied if I never want something, right? And some part of me thinks writing is sacred, that being too 'strict' with it will remove some of its mysterious allure. And yet.
At this point, I don't think I can waffle or be unfocused anymore. Instead, I feel with some clarity: I need to do the work, I need to figure out how to get there, I need to _try_ not giving myself excuses anymore. And it's not greed, it's not wrong, if I work hard.
So here's something I tried recently. I tried writing out everything I wanted. I ignored my intense embarrassment and dreamed hard. I wrote down which authors I admired and wanted to write like. I wrote my doubts and I said: well, I can't worry about this.
I wrote: 'I wish I could write beautiful books that go to the heart, where turning the page is an act, sentences are alive, entire passages can be copied because they sing.' I wrote: 'I want to write astonishing, heartrending, masterful stories. AND A LOT OF THEM.'
I wrote out what I wanted out of this career (yes, I am owning that, I will call it a career). I rolled my eyes at myself and blushed but I was happy, too, pleased with my own audacity, with the sparkliness of my dream. It's a good dream!
Then I wrote: in order to do these things, here is what I need to accomplish, here is how I think I need to arrange my life. I quickly sobered up because ngl, it's going to be EXTREMELY difficult. Especially because I have ambitions for my life _outside_ of writing.
But even if I suddenly went all grim and gritty, contorting my face at all the ways this could go wrong or not work out, I could feel my heart soaring. Because suddenly the dreams were out of the closet and floating everywhere, cheering me on.
I finished with: I am excited to be a writer, to have writing back, to dream big and be ambitious like this. I can't let it go now. I'm going to work hard, do my best, and make it work. (I did not add: freaking out be damned.)
Look: dreams can be painful. Ambition can feel like a burn. All the wanting in the world won't make things a reality unless there's work, and grit, involved (and heaping doses of luck, tbh). I know why you've probably never done it, and I get it.
But if at last there's some part of you that's thinking it might be time to try a little ambition, that you deserve to dream big too: listen to it. Just see what happens. It might break things open for you, and that's beautiful, and worthy.
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