Ambition has been my nemesis for most of my adult life. I say adult life, because prior to the age of twenty, my ambitions were ambiguous. For a few years I wanted to be a musician, or a stage performer, and maybe those things consumed me to a degree, but clearly not enough to achieve realization.
No, my ambition started in the Army. That was the first time I realized achievement. Before then, I remember hearing the phrase, “What are we going to do with Clare?” I wasn’t an especially high achiever in school, but I managed to graduate high school toward the back of the line. I had reasonable confidence, the result of stage performance, but not much to back it up.
The Army taught me real confidence. They literally had something called a confidence course where we traversed multiple potentially dangerous obstacles. I remember climbing a giant ladder made of logs that was at least four stories high. I was the only female to make it up and over. The confidence course was aptly named. From that point on I began to really believe in myself.
The Army taught me to always think ahead. I became very goal oriented. I reveled in my physical fitness. I became a runner, and worked hard to be better than my natural skill allowed. In a lot if ways Army life was easy. The steps were more or less laid out.
But, I had so much more to achieve then. I was uneducated, and very self conscious about it. I attended night classes, but still didn’t have the discipline necessary to really excel academically. Truly it wasn’t until my First Sergeant told me that I didn’t have to let everyone know (through my actions) that I was smarter than them. I didn’t even know I had been doing that. Smart was not a word I thought of in the first person. That realization started me on a whole new path of achievement.