gripping your throat, your joints, tissue, your fingers and toes, submerged in your blood stream, strangling your woes, 

ambition has taken command of your being. 

ambition drives some to make strides, defy the odds and establish themselves. 

but for me, my ambition suffocates me and collapses on top of me before I even vacate my starting position. 

I have crippling ambition.

I want everything I can’t have. 

I feel it so strongly that it makes me weak.

I’m feeble and fearful. 

failure taunts me everywhere I look. 

I want my dreams too badly that I am paralyzed by my ambition. 

I choke up, freeze up, stumble and falter. 

I want it all the more, but it seems so much farther.

1 step forward, a million steps away. 

10 steps forward, it’s in another galaxy?

there’s not even a glimpse any more. 

I’m pulled into this shadowed void, to an endpoint that isn’t even visible to the naked eye. 

I trudge blindly, but my feet are sandbags and the ground is a hungry receiver of my weight. it sucks me in and I am but a petite girl who cannot pull more than my own. 

I become weary and defeated. 

my ambition tells me to do the impossible,

it tells me it’s plausible. 

I just need to hold my mind to the goal. 

look forward never back, 

see my prey, 

crouch and attack. 

but I don’t have that attack! 

I’m not naturally gifted, 

I’m just a girl with aspirations, 

with hard work that is really just some affirmations. 

I want it I got it, I’m going to fight for it.

but take a look, and you see nothing.

I am stagnant, actionless, 

is she even breathing?

you ask as you see a meek figure hunched over with overly relaxed limbs and a pale glow. 

the stench of sweat, with a hint of blood drifts through the air.

but the source is unknown, for no strain has been shown. 

this girl you see is still and lifeless.

there’s no way that she shed blood or sweat.

her work is not strenuous, 

it’s hardly notable. 

true, but also false. 

I am working endlessly in my mind, and I push myself to mental injury, often physical too. 

my desire to succeed runs through and through. 

but I cannot implement it, apply it or enact it. 

I might as well redact it. 

i’m pained and discouraged, 

goal-driven but malnourished.

emotionally drained, physically inadequate.

every defeat pleas for me to quit. 

I’m crippled by my ambition and there’s no cure. 

to want is to suffer and I can’t endure that anymore, 

that’s for sure.


This is a poem about burnout and setting unrealistic expectations composed by Shayna Demick, a Class of 2025 Environmental Science major in the Honors College. In celebration of National Poetry Month, “186 South College” has been posting the work of Honors students weekly throughout the month of April and May as bonus content. While our National Poetry Month celebration has come to an end, please check back frequently on the Honors Blog page next semester for new writing challenges for the Honors Community!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email