By: Karenna Umscheid
I can’t describe myself without thinking of ambition. It is what drives me to do everything I do – from eating and sleeping, to doing homework and to writing this story. It’s the voice in my head telling me to go to the gym or to pick up that book. It gives me everything I am – my confidence, my voice, my fearlessness.
My Asian tiger mom has it too. It runs in my blood. From Pridi Banomyong, my great-grandfather and the former Prime Minister of Thailand, to Dusadi Banomyong, my great-aunt and renowned Thai diva and vocal coach, to my grandmother, a strong-willed accountant who lived through a traumatic past to succeed in her life.
Ambition is what gives me enemies. It’s what makes me open my mouth, prompting myself to be yelled at to shut up, to be made fun of, to be called arrogant and annoying. I’m too much for a lot of people. I’m intimidating.
I’ve been ambitious for as long as I can remember. From wanting to be a doctor, to an architect, to a politician, a campaign manager, a journalist, a director, or an athlete. The top of my list of dreams was to learn my home country’s language, Thai. It’s a goal I’m currently working on.
Connecting with my culture has strengthened my ambition even more. From watching Thai films in hopes that I’ll pick up the language, to writing articles in hopes of working for The Bangkok Post.
I have never seen my ambition as a bad thing. All I wish is for more women to feel this too. This drive to make a difference on this Earth. Forget about society or expectations, find what ignites you, and get closer to it. If it’s more than one thing, get closer to all those things. And work your ass off to make it. No matter your age.
What do I know? I am only 17. It’s not like any of my ambition has led me to a big career success. But one day it will. That’s just the ambition in me talking.
Karenna Umscheid is a Thai-American writer, activist, and high school student from Beaverton, Oregon. When she’s not phone banking or studying, you can find her at City Hall, the movies, or a rock-climbing gym. Her favorite movies are Kill Bill and The Green Mile. Her favorite books include The Joy Luck Club and Misery. She hopes to one day be a journalist in Asia, run political campaigns, and write and direct movies. She loves Parks & Rec.