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  • Writer's pictureFelicia Moursalien

Time v. Ambition


Bangkok. A couple years ago my university sweetheart called me out of the blue. I was surprised but pleased to hear from him. If you read the blog of my early 20's , you'll know we shared an intense, long distance relationship full of dissolution and young love in Paris that ended soon after undergrad when I moved to Indonesia to pursue, what I myopically thought, would be a long career in the United Nations. While somehow we made it work in the cocoon of academia, I simply didn't have the emotional bandwidth to navigate the beginning of my career and new life in Asia while having my heart anchored across the world, perennially dragging at my body. So we broke up, confidently choosing ambition over love, as we so often do when we have the luxury of time. But time had passed. I was 28 when he called me.

The tone of his voice was what was most surprising. Tall, loud and confident, he was the guy who always knew his role in a world ultimately made for him. Whether anyone agreed to his casting or not was of little importance. We can understand his natural ebullience as Virginia Woolf described Orlando: "A million candles burnt in him without his being at the trouble of lighting a single one."

He had plans of being at the apogee of business and creative, stacked accolades for being a 20 year old film-maker and entrepreneur while we were at school, and burning to revolutionize French cinema. I would wake up at 5am in an empty bed to find him furiously typing away at his macbook in the midst of some urgent idea that couldn't wait till morning.

His ambition and passion, I admit even today, was an inspiration to me and was pivotal to empowering my own ambitions towards entrepreneurship and building. I hungered to be so passionate! He gave me a new standard to strive for, and perhaps very importantly, a new sense of entitlement. Anything I did in life would need more than my ambition as fuel, but my wholehearted passion as part of the solvent. But coming from a humble yet hardworking world of Guyanese immigrants, the concept was novel to me. My father attempted to give me some career advice when I started college.

“Felicia, I’m not sure what kind of job you think you’ll get with..what was your degree again?” (Immigrant parents had a hard time grasping anything that wasn’t DLE - doctor, lawyer, engineer. It was International Relations, for the record.) “But let me tell you something.”

He paused, ready to deliver wisdom in a blue collar fortune cookie, “You don’t need to like your job, you just need to make enough money to like your life.

He paused, ready to deliver wisdom in a blue collar fortune cookie, “You don’t need to like your job, you just need to make enough money to like your life.”

Mic drop? It made sense. Where he was from, both geographically and chronologically, work and life were not one. I reflected on my family’s 9-5 jobs, stacks of mortgages for cookie cutter suburban homes and car payments for cars so they could spend weekends shuttling across Toronto, hanging out with each other playing cards and/or gambling on hockey or football. Were these the “Liking Life” KPIs of the Guyanese diaspora? And while I had nothing against this life- it was the joy of my childhood to be able to play with my cousins every weekend- something about my dad’s advice never sat quite right. It was no surprise then, that prior to moving abroad I had never seen anyone strive so hard for their dream. Fuck it, at 20 years old I had never seen anyone bold enough to dream so hard.

Yet what I heard on the whatsapp call was the sound of a young man breaking and insecure. The first cracks in the ice.

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