Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ideals Vs. Ambitions = A Lose-Lose Situation

Two nights ago I attended a Kiva social event at the SF Hub, and rubbed shoulders with socially enlightened San Franciscans and beyond, which brought my own conflicted feelings about ideals vs. ambitions into the limelight. Generally, I try to avoid that, as it tends to make me consume industrial amounts of sugar in an an attempt to turn inner conflict into inner confit

A small business owner in Huancanayo, Peru.
Kiva helped her get money to expand her store.
For those who are not familiar with Kiva (or the internets), they are a non-profit that enables micro-loans from socially concerned individuals in developed countries to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the world. The loans can be as small as $25 and Kiva is currently the “hottest” nonprofit out there. You don’t have to take my word for it – check out their press clips.

This is the concept behind "The Hub."
The venue – the Hub – is also an interesting beast. Housed in the SF Chronicle building, it is a self-proclaimed “nexus point of entrepreneurship, funding, and mission.” While I’m still hazy on what exactly that means, it seems that by day the Hub is a workspace of sorts that aims to replace “the sterile office, the noisy cafes” where people usually do business, and by night it’s a hot venue for non-traditional events like The Unreasonable West Coast Pitch Fest, where people pitch ventures like Who Gives a Crap a non-profit toilet paper supporting water sanitation projects in the developing world,  and Sexy Salad Wednesdays, a mixer that involves salad ingredients and sexy brains. Enough said.

The Kiva social was eye-opening. I only wish I was wearing shades. Among the people I met there: former Kiva fellows who quit their cushy, well-paying finance jobs to volunteer in muddy boots in mosquito-ridden countries of the world on their own dime, folks who created non-profits to support sustainable and green fashion, and, thanks to my friend Michelle, Premal Shah, Kiva President.

But rather than continue to praise these amazing people and their lofty goals, let me tell you about my own inner gridlock. I really, truly admire the idealists who have the strength to follow their dreams at the expense of their career. I also really, truly admire the professionals who can dedicate themselves fully and unquestioningly to their career paths. My impasse stems from the fact that I am trapped between my ideals and my ambitions. While the former threaten to flatten my peace of mind under the footprint of unrealized potential and nagging doubt, the latter are basically etched in my personality by the chisel of parental aspirations.

I’m not sure if this is directly related to the fact that I’m a first generation immigrant and I carry in my luggage duty, guilt and ambition neatly folded, with a flavor of the hinterlands, or if it’s a wider characteristic of my generation. At any rate, I have to admit, living in San Francisco has made me exponentially more aware of this gray space I inhabit on the edges of emotional and professional fulfillment.

That said, the hors d'oeuvres were fantastic. 


Anonymous said...

Fear not and follow your heart! It will bring you to a fulfilling rewarding life and that IS successful. I liked your article, interesting.

Anonymous said...

Well said all throughout.

Finding myself in a similar state of mind regarding the inner battle between ideas vs. ambitions, .... Let it go. And by let it go i mean let you subconscious mind decide for you. I truly believe this is the only way to find peace of mind and be realatvely happy. At least this is my approach. And now I want to move to SF even more:)))

hopefully see you soon draga

hupjack said...

I'm a fellow gray space inhabiter.. tempted to take off and do peace corps for a few years.. tempted by jobs doing solar in south america or india... I'm in freakin solar, and the fact that it became all "business-like" repels me somehow. if only my heart or "gut" was more vocal.. I might follow and take some more serious risks some day.

Anonymous said...

Hey, something is wrong with your site in Opera, you should check into it.