When I was 15, for some reason I decided to write down my ambitions in life. They ended up being a mixed bag, which you can now see in the photo below, taken from the original orange school exercise book I used.
You may have noticed that strangely enough running a marathon was not on the list. I must have soon later added this mentally to my list as I remember it being an ambition of mine for some time before I ran it all those years ago. Still, the list I did come up with makes for interesting reading! It’s fair to say that by that age I hadn’t really done much in life – I’d not even been abroad yet – so my world pretty much consisted of life in my home town. Let’s take the ambitions one by one…
1. To parachute out of the sky. As opposed to out of what? Not done this one yet but I would still love to do it sometime. I’m damn scared of heights, though!
2. To travel the world. Hmmmm – fulfilled to a degree, but I’ve still loads to see so can’t really tick that one off.
3. To unite the world and make peace. What was I, a hippy??!! I guess I went from an age (remember it’s before the Internet) from only caring about football and computers to knowing a bit about how crap the world can be. No kid wants to see wars and suffering, so fair play to young Andy for wanting a better world – and of course I still want that. Not quite sure how I thought I was going to achieve that, though. I’ll leave that ambition open…
4. To help prevent future diasters, i.e. acid rain etc. Maybe I was going for a sainthood! I must have been influenced by a school project, but nice to see that I had green thoughts even then (I’ll even forgive my mis-use of i.e.) I’m not the greenest person I admit, sitting here with my laptop plugged in whilst watching a big plasma TV, but I recycle a lot and do various green things. Whatever happened to acid rain anyway?
5. To go into space. You know what? I’m going to state right here and now that I will fulfill this ambition. How? Well space tourism is starting up and although it’s very expensive for what you get at the moment, it will get better and cheaper in years to come, so if I can stay healthy and keep some money aside then I’m going sign up someday. Watch out for a blog entry from orbit!
6. To be a successful writer of stories. Now we’re talking! This is actually the reason why you’re reading this post. I decided a year or two ago that I wanted to get into writing, and it was this very line in this very exercise book that I had in mind when I decicided to do something about it. I always loved writing stories at school, often got praise for them, and it was probably only when I turned to computers that I left that behind. But it was always with me. The daydreams, the fantasies, the ideas that came into my head that floated around and never went anywhere. When I remembered my ambition list and dug out the book, there it was looking up at me. One of the first things I wrote down and put up on my wall as a reminder and to encourage me to write was To Fulfill Your Ambition. I owed it to my younger self – that’s what I wanted, and that teenager was still in me.
Of course, I’m not going to delude myself and say that I’ve achieved this ambition yet. Sure, I’ve successfully got something published online and have people say they’ve enjoyed my stories – even got paid small amounts for the odd piece – but I want more. Maybe I’ll never get much further – it’s very hard to get noticed out there – but I won’t know if I don’t try. This is one ambition I’ll keep aiming for.
7. To go parascending. Wow. From world peace to being pulled from the back of a boat in the air. I remember really wanting to do this, but haven’t yet and probably won’t as it doesn’t appeal to me now that much. Think my sister did it, though, so she gets the tick for that one.
8. To go to the top of mount Everest. This used to be a rare challenge, met by few, but nowadays it’s relatively common – over 1000 have reached the summit. No, I’m not one of them, but still think it would be very cool to do sometime.
9. To be an astronomer. I’ve kept up my interest in astronomy over the years. Recently, I bought some binoculars for stargazing, and have thought about a telescope for years. I’m very slightly obsessed with the moon in terms of photographing it (it changes a lot and makes for a variety of different shots, OK?) and have spent several hours trying (and suceeding!) to capture a meteor on camera. I’ll even watch the Sky at Night when I see that it’s on. Not exactly big time, but I’ll say I’ve partially fulfilled this. I’ll move on now as my geek status is rising…
10. To make a success of my life. Oh, right, a clear one from me! Do I start a big debate on what is success? Am I successful? Can I answer this yet? Should I wait until I’m on my death bed to pass judgment?
11. To go or play at Anfield. Well, that’s two very different achievements! I’ve been a big Liverpool fan since I was 11, so Anfield was always a dream. Not coming from a footy family and having, sadly, just Arsenal mates, a trip to Anfield was never scheduled. 7 years later, though, I did make the trip to Liverpool and technically fulfilled this ambition. Now, if I can only get to play on the hallowed turf…
12. To win a major competition. Not done this yet, unless you count me winning the chance to appear in a computer magazine a year after I wrote that. This one is a little out of my hands, but then again I’m off to Vegas soon…
13. To go diving. Can’t recall really wanting to do this, but I suppose I might do this one day. Closest to date is snorkelling.
14. To go on TV. I don’t think I meant being a presenter or anything, just to somehow appear on TV. To my knowledge, I haven’t made it on to the screen, but there’s plenty of time!
(You may have noticed that I didn’t put any serious career ambitions – certainly nothing about computers or management! Well, that’s simply because at 15, like many teenagers, I guess, I didn’t have a monkey’s what I wanted to do.)
In summary, I haven’t achieved any of these totally. Which sucks a little, with over twenty years having passed since, but I’ve done two marathons and I’ve at least had a stab at some of these. And I’m still young. Ish. In my eyes. Oh shut up…
Whether you’re 15, 45 or 65, in my opinion you should have ambitions and go for them. Write them down like I did and keep them safe – it’s cool to look back on years later, and even might inspire you, like my writing one. Keep links to the past you – the years will change you into a different person, but there’ll always be the younger you in there somewhere.
I could try to finish up with something really inspirational, but quite honestly it would only come across trite. If you’d rather your dreams stay as just dreams, then fine. If you want to aim for the stars, then fantastic, but GO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! As for me, I’m going back to my list as it appears I’ve got some work to do…Please consider donating to the children's charity that I have now painfully run the 26.2 miles for - details at: http://www.justgiving.com/andymales