How Do You Balance Love and Ambition?

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I’m wasting your time, to say I’m straight, I’d be lying
It’s either you or this music but I can’t make up my mind
I’d throw you a line, I’d give you a sign
Right now I’m through with the trying, I think you ready to fly
I settle for less so when I’m tired of stress
I go through with the motions pretending I’m at my best
Fall victim to flesh, I live to be fresh
But this ain’t what I expect because my life is a wreck
I run out of breath cuz I ain’t taking the steps
Money comes and it goes ’til family’s all I got left
I’m seeing my growth, but I’m still from myself
You’ll be hollering out next because you’re ready to fly
I can’t find the words so you’ll just fill in the blanks
I’m doing the norm and not what it takes
I’ll keep folding my cards and you’ll keep raising the stakes
‘Til we forget about us and what we have is too late

Big K.R.I.T. – Red Eye

I’m a huge fan of Big K.R.I.T. This isn’t the time for an album review or a deep dive into who he is, maybe we’ll do that another day. It’s about this song on the 4Eva N A Day mixtape, Red Eye. What connects me most with K.R.I.T. is that he spends time talking about real issues that affect the everyday man. Despite his success, he hasn’t lost it and started talking about hopping out of vans and misremembering women’s names. (Yes, that was a shot.) The first time I listened to this song, I might have played it over and over again for a day. (I’m one of those people who can listen to a song all the way to the club on my headphones in the back of the car.) It was one of the first times that a song really connected with me. My struggle with ambition and relationships doesn’t lead me to desire meaningless relationships with women I meet along the way. My struggle causes me to wonder if I’m holding the woman back, or not giving her everything she needs, and makes me wonder if I should let her go. My struggle makes me wonder if sometimes I’m chasing the wrong things. One of these days all the money will be gone and I’m not going to want to be alone at that time. I can’t shake that feeling that I’m laid up on my death bed with all my goals achieved, but I’m alone. Anyway, it’s a struggle, and it isn’t a beautiful one.

Women find themselves attracted to a man who’s got a lot going for himself and isn’t lazy about chasing his goals, but then find themselves in competition with those very things that she found attractive. I wrote this article on Bitchie Life about men not wanting to date an Ambitious Girl, it wasn’t about myself, I was just pointing out a common misconception. Not too many of us have it in us to date someone with a lot on their plate. Not seeing each other every week or only exchanging text messages once a day isn’t really something everyone can do. In my mind, if she’s not happy with what I got on the plate, don’t push other things off that plate. It’s my promise to her that as I finish eating, she can have the free space on that plate. At the same time that she might feel squished, I’m eating as fast as I can and that’s why I’m busy.

Being happy is the goal, but greatness is my vision
And all these girls are thinking they compete with my ambition
But baby I am different
This sh*t is my life
And if you don’t believe me, you can never be wife

Childish Gambino – I’m Alright

A good friend of mine told me the other day that we make time for what we want to make time for, but does that mean I have to give up on what I want in my future for today? And while we try to find ways to balance the two, is she jousting for position between my future and my now? When women force men into tough decisions about choosing her or their dreams, they sometimes render themselves optional. I’ve never understood how to respond to, “you make time for what you want to make time for.” I always thought the answer might hurt her feelings. “Yes, I’m focused on getting myself out this position of right now that ain’t where I want to be.” I feel like, most men and women are going to choose happiness over a relationship. That’s how people end up divorced or resenting their partner. When I get in my feelings I might say, I’d rather be single, than broke. That’s not true. What is true is this: as long as I have my happiness, my momma is always going to love me. Ironically, the first relationship that many of us experience with the opposite sex is with their mother or father. It is also the one that teaches you if someone loves you, they want you to be happy.

And family is everything and money is less important
Long as your mama love you, don’t ever love a woman
I got a lot of b*tches, they got a lot of feelings
But I got that green on my eyes
And that ain’t no Donnie Simpson

Wale – Ambition

Here’s my perspective, don’t make me choose. Why can’t we both find ways to be great? In the podcast today, I spoke about how the most attractive women to me are those that motivate me to be better, to grow, and to achieve. That’s how women can make it work. As the man, I’m willing to communicate often and frequently. I don’t agree with the notion of constantly reminding a woman that she is important to me or that I make her a priority. Women sometimes have relationship amnesia and they need to hear it way more than it really needs to be said. However, a conversation needs to occur at some point where I firmly tell her that outside of my busy life of work and ambition, when it comes to people, she’s my first priority. She’s actually the first person I want to see when I have time away from business. She has to learn to hang her hat on that, and be proud of it, rather than competing with non-human things like goals, ambition, and a hustle. That, to me, seems odd.

I, on the other hand, have to learn to stop losing so much sleep over this.

So if you’re ready to fly, just forget about me
But if you’re willing to try, then I’m willing to leap
Out of the window of pain and fall in love at your feet
I ain’t the man you want me to be
I guess that’s what’s been bothering me

Big K.R.I.T. – Red Eye

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  • J. Crawford

    This post reminds me of Timbaland’s song Say Something as well. As Humans, we want it all because we are Masters of the Land (Earth), and as a Man, our main duties are to Provide, Protect, and Go Forth and Create a Legacy in his and God’s image, but in the midst of Love and Ambition the two aren’t always in line with each other, nor are they in the order of succession. Women who have come into their own also face this, maybe Worse now since they are earning degrees and jobs more than Men, though still treated 2nd Best in terms of pay, yet still have to abide by Traditions (waiting on Courtship, the Ring, Wedding, Kids, etc)….. Guys want to Redeem the Gender Rep and go about the Right Way, yet the Biological Clocks of ( some) Women don’t allow much Patience and Understanding, especially this/My Generation…

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  • Guest

    what the hell are you talking about?

  • http://www.twitter.com/lhautevie Little Miss Sunshine

    " I firmly tell her that outside of my busy life of work and ambition, when it comes to people, she’s my first priority."

    Bingo. This is exactly where I find myself in my life. I'm all about my career and what it takes to get my name on the door but once I leave the office my boyfriend/non-boyfriend is the first person that I want to see. We didn't even aim for it to be that way (harkening back to your summer flings gone wrong post) but after we both get done with our work weeks (if and when that happens) we fall back into each others arms at each others places.

    I think it works because we both want the same things out of life right now and recognize that our relationship is secondary. The problem becomes when one of us changes our minds. I was in a relationship that started out like this and my boyfriend decided he was ready to settle down and our relationship should come before our career. Needless to say my career is still here and he isn't.

    I'm really beginning to think that this is the conundrum that never really gets solved. People get married and then divorced over this issue. Just hope, pray, and constantly communicate.

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  • kmplx

    Great post – this is something my rational mind says all the damn time, but my fragile heart wants the attention and always being the number one priority in his life, when I feel like I should be. But when I see what I can see as those similar signs and actions from him, I get all “rational” and slightly claustrophobic. This is definately food for thought – thanks!

  • Tristan.

    A woman NEVER comes between a man and his ambition. Even if she wins, here comes the resentment, and its only going to grow and drive them further apart. Similar to the uitimatum post, he has to want to change, be there, be supportive, and eventually his ambition will be giving you the world. But a lot of women don't have that patience, which is a reason Drake still crying over the same old heauxs and people are scratching their heads as to why T.I. is with a muppet like Tiny. Just saying.
    My recent post Today’s Word is …Start

    • Bree

      Damn Trist why Tiny gotta be a muppet????/

  • http://learninglover.com/blog AfterMath

    I can relate to this. Its been a constant problem for me. When I think about this, ideally I think about somebody that helps inspire me on my passions, and hopefully it'd be mutual. But that's a lot easier said than done. Especially when you're in my field.
    My recent post How Could You Possibly Love/Hate Math?

  • http://www.iammisha.com YoursTruly

    " I firmly tell her that outside of my busy life of work and ambition, when it comes to people, she’s my first priority." BOOM!!

    I LOVE IT!!! This isn’t something that has to reintegrated daily but it should be CLEAR where we stand with each other and what significance that I am to you. Communication is EVERYTHING. Who doesn’t want to be built up or encouraged however, it’s a difference between being supportive, being absent mentally & emotionally, and just blowing smoke. It’s as simple as being up front with expectations and what you can or can’t offer in a relationship from jump.

    My recent post Gabby Douglas Gymnastics Champ Claims Olympic Spot, Thanks God

  • Bree

    Doc J I agree with your comments. You shouldn't lose any sleep over it.
    Once you find a woman that knows you, flaws and all, and accepts and loves you just as you are, then u will be good.
    Granted this is easier said than done, but she is out there. I know folks who make crazy relationships and marriages work all the time.
    Folks who both travel for their jobs and live seperately but are still together and this works for them. I work with married people who work together and have different schedules and work in different departments, but it obviously works well for them because they are doing it.
    I think part of it is too many times we let other people tell us how to be in our relationships. We let other people define what's right and whats wrong, like our family and friends. Just because our relationship with someone may be unconventional and not work for others, doesn't mean it won't work for us.
    I say once u find a woman thats is truly "ride or die" and willing to accept your ambition and drive and what comes with it, and you find a way to make your relationship work best for you, then do you and don't listen to other people.

  • http://www.katwebbmusic.com KitKatCuty84

    I've never been a person who understood why having a goal (even a lofty, near impossible one), meant you had to forsake everything and everyone else. I've always been an overachiever. Always been someone who was more comfortable operating at 150%. I can't even sleep past 8 on the weekends unless I'm sick or haven't slept more than 4 hours in several days. But somehow, some WAY, I've ALSO been able to maintain relationships with other people. I've even thought that, PERHAPS, another person might HELP with my goals, support me in my struggle, be there to share when I achieved my dream. Oprah has Steadman, Obama has Michelle. It's pretty common that some of the people we look up to the most in terms of ambition have someone on their right hand, so I'm not really sure where the notion came from that we can't have it all. We can. We should. THAT should be our goal, not just the money and love as an after thought. If you claim to want it all, want ALL of it.

    • Bree

      KitKat I think that's more of a man thing. I'm not saying all men, but more men than women seem to operate under this guise.
      Some people just cannot fully focus on big stuff like career and school with someone in their life. Especially when that someone requires at least some of your time and attention. I had an ex who was in grad school for architecture. He worked for the architectural firm that designed the new Nationals baseball stadium in DC. He was part of that design team. He also did side work for one of his professors. Safe to say he had a lot on his plate. Much of it was acquired after we were together for several months. I'm a considerate person and have never been one to hold anyone back from their responsibilities. I'm unselfish enough to know that it's not always all about me me me. If I'm with a man who is successful and is doin big things I understand it will take a lot of his time and energy to maintain that level of success.

      • Bree

        My ex started to sacrifice a lot of time that should have been spent on his schoolwork for me. We were living together at the time. He failed one semester. His mom was paying for his tuition out of pocket. She was wealthy because of a lawsuit she won. As good as it felt that he preferred spending time with me as opposed to doing his work and as flattered that I was that I could so easily keep his attention; I couldn't let him fail at something he was so talented at and that he and his mom worked so hard to give him.

        • Bree

          If he failed another semester he would've been immediately dropped from the program and the only other comprable program that would possibly take him, the next year, was in Colorado I think.
          I had to sit down with him and firmly tell him that he needed to straighten up and fly right. I told him he needed to buckle down and study and pass his exams and get his projects done on time. I told him to fall back for a minute with always being up in my face and us going out. I told him to focus less on me and more on school. Proud to say he did and we spent less time together and he graduated with honors. We broke up before he graduated, not because we didn't spend enough time together but for other reasons. But still, I'm glad that he accomplished that goal and is a very successful architect and web designer. I would never want someone to lose out on their goals and dreams because of me. I would feel terrible. I would never allow someone to do that to me.

        • Bree

          Everyone is different in how they handle their priorities and whats impnt to them. It's not necessarily about the person they are with not being impnt, but that whatever they are doing is more impnt and they can't quite find a good balance. This is a very very hard thing to do. It's not easy finding that balance when u have a career and relationship or marriage and kids. Thats some big stuff to deal with. So folks have to be patient if they care enough about that person and allow them to fulfill their priorities and still support them and be there for them.

    • WisdomIsMisery

      Kat, I agree with a couple of Bree's points.

      I would add that women usually look for a successful man. So to most men, this translates to "I have to be successful man before I can have the woman I want in my life." While you might be an exception, if I understood you correctly, for every 1 woman that wants to grind with the dude on fries, there's 10 women that would just prefer to skip the fry cook and date the CEO. But, the CEO didnt start off as a CEO… In other words, ambition is harder to stick by than success because ambition doesnt guarantee success.

      Is what it is tho.

      • Bree

        "ambition is harder to stick by than success because ambition doesnt guarantee success." so true Wis, so very true.

      • UrbanMBA

        Success is so subjective though. You have so many people pegging success to the attainment of things instead of looking at the quality of life they lead. Ambition will always drive a man or woman to provide for themselves and ultimately their families. Isn't that what this all supposed to be about anyways? Women want men who are successful so they don't have to struggle, not so he can outfit her closet with designer names and take her across the world on trips. Or is that my naïveté talking?

  • The Suburban Thug

    There's so much truth to what you mention here. It doesn't get any easier being married. When marriage is part of the equation, a man has to still pursue his goals, not just for himself, but also for his family. Sometimes getting a wife to understand that what he is doing will benefit the unit in the long run is a hard pill to take. Yes, communication is vital to everybody being on the same page, but the reality is that more often than not, a kind of ultimatum is still initiated, be it verbal or not.

    For a husband, if he can get his wife to see the benefits of him completing his mission, and also get her engaged in it, then perhaps this would lead to the woman not feeling like she has to be chosen over something. She in fact will be part of the process, and they both get what they need.

    • Bree

      Exactly Suburban Thug. Cosign.

  • Bee

    Great Post. I have been the girl pushed aside because of work and busy schedule and ambition. I personally don't want a man without ambition and goals. But I also think it is about communication, finding a balance and finding someone who will work with you and help you instead of distract you. Someone to take some of the pressure off and help you relax during your down time instead of adding more stress. It is hard but it is possible and I think that is how great relationships are made. You make time for what you want. A text message, an email, a phone call. Sometimes that's all you can do because of your busy schedule but taking the time for even that is important. Saying I can't hang this weekend coz I have work to do but we can have lunch on Sunday coz I want to see you. Taking five minutes out of your lunch break to make a phone call or on your way home from work, to see how the person is doing. Its all about the little things and wanting to keep that connection and wanting to make it work. Both people have to be on the same page and have to be willing to work together. Finding someone who understands that you are working towards something and is willing to be there, work with you and not get in the way.

    PS: I love SBM. You guys are awesome. You give me food for thought every day and I can't wait to see what you guys have posted each morning after i wake up.

  • WisdomIsMisery

    I have mixed feelings, as I’ve been with both types of women. The woman who is supportive of me and my goals/dreams and the woman that wants me to choose. Either way, I’ll be frank: for me, it’s usually been easier to pursue many of my goals apart from a woman. Also, I don’t necessarily need a woman to help me achieve most of those goals. I’ve explained this before, but the goals I have for single WIM and in a relationship WIM aren’t necessarily the same list.

    In my experience, when you’re in a relationship there is no way to dedicate 100% of yourself towards your pursuits, unless you are both interested in the same pursuits. Otherwise, you will have to split your time between your relationship and your goals, which is fine. People do it everyday. However, a number of people fail at finding that balance and one of three things happen: 1) they never achieve their goals; 2) they take longer to achieve their goals; (since they’re not dedicating their full resources but are still moving in the right direction); 3) they grow to resent each other for “holding me back” – although I’m not sure this is a fair accusation.

    That’s my two cents.

    • Guest

      Depending on the career path, both partners being in the same field seems more detrimental than not. Yes, you will have someone who understands your complaints, but that also means that you never really take a break from work/career related topics.

      This has been a battle I unfortunately have experienced where my career has come in the way of relationships ( same Career path) Upthread a commenter mentioned that it sometimes is easier for one partner to be support system. I have learned to swallow that hard truth. Obviously, there will also be exceptions, but as a female it seems we are more likely to wait or put off our dreams for others. And that's a pill I can't seem to fill a prescription for.

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  • Bree

    I agree Wis…..the hardest part isn't necessarily having a relationship and big dreams, it's finding the "perfect balance" between the two.

  • Bree

    At the end of the day I think u just have to go with whatever means the most to you at that time, be it a relationship or your goals and ambitions. If you know that your the type of person that needs to focus 100% on your career goals or school then u do that. Like they say, when your successful and making lots of money, women will come, (and this is especially true for men).

  • Alakaii Hawaii

    As friends, spending your time together to hang out and do fun stuff is easy-going because you're getting to know one another. Transitioning into a relationship is hard because it's different actions to maintain it. It's more time apart, it's more trust going into one another, it's picking up new and different responsibilities. I wondered how it feel when his time was for work and personal goals. At first I was SO confused. Why leave me by myself NOW? I wanted him to do his thing and I expected him to handle his business but I didn't realize…all I can really do is stay in bed and miss him. I didn't realize like….I CAN'T get out of bed. It's not a feeling for me that's the reality. I'm upset and distraught. There's a level of jealousy; he'll go out to celebrate his friends milestones before he'll come to see me so I feel prioritized under them. Being alone makes it worse at times but sometimes it feels natural to be alone and admit to myself that I'm happy with him and that I sincerely feel good about him doing what he needs to do for himself and for us. I'm pretty tired but I guess I'm in good hands. *teary-eyed giggling*

  • Lagoschicka

    Long time lurker but I had to comment since this hit close to home. I’ve never wanted a ready made man so I’ve long made peace with being a support mechanism. Also, my relationships have been mostly long distance so I’m used to learning to wait. 2 years ago, I got into a LDR with a guy that got me (cause it was too good to pass up) and he’d just enrolled in med school at the time. I guess I didn’t know how much it’d take and what was required of me. We broke up then but got together this year cause we really wanted to be together..he’s got 4 yrs of medical school left and I’m applying for a doctorate.
    LDRs are already hard, something as intensive as our courses on top of it is just…wow. But I know I want him, plus I get to accomplish my goals too. Still, I feel like I’m walking a tightrope between love and ambition.
    The plan for now is to keep doing what kept us friendly-ish for the past 2 yrs…just be there, make calls, add my brand of fun to his life, Skype, try not to add to his stress, etc. But being friends with feelings and being a girlfriend is different…I know I get into my feelings and want to be assured that I’m still the one, and he’s not catching any serious feelings for one of those girls in his world that I’m not a part of.
    The risks for me here are definitely high, but I’m trying to be more confident in what we have, share my feelings with him, and listen to what he needs. When I have insecurities, I try to understand them, then share them with him…at the end of the day, I’ve made a choice to ride it out. Hopefully, the 4 years’ll work out great and be a great foundation for a life together.

  • Fatsani

    When you are in the final days of your life what will you want? will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you be asked to be carried to the garage so you can go sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Ofcourse not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?- Max Lucado. We are naturally inclined to want to be paired or to seek validation from those who surround us. Meaningful relationships, carry a hefty amount of weight in determinig how happy we are. As much as we like to imagine our careers being a central part of our self-actualisation, relationships carry just as much weight. Some Guy sent me the Red Eye song to listen to I got him but I didnt get what it meant to my life. Women nee to have more than a man. We need to Keep our eyes on God, because our insatiable desire for a man is really a search for that perfect love, rather than an acknowledgment that love between two human beings is imperfect.

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  • prutledge

    I don't understand what's so hard about including a woman in your goals? And I'm not talking about asking her to help you achieve anything. Or being open and honest with her about where you want to be. As a woman, I want you to imagine I am also a job. Have you set goals for how you would like to excel here as well? Are you working for a promotion? Or am I just something you do when you get off work? Which would make me more of a hobby. I think when you have a relationship, you are then juggling 2 full-time jobs. And you don't want one boss to get upset or feel like you're not as serious. And if you honestly are not up for the challenge that is the balance, then you're not really ready for the relationship. Because in the end, your partner–not your job–will have to carry you.
    My recent post Is There Really a Black Marriage Decline?