How Motherhood Empowered Me to Chase My Dreams

In this post, guest author Hilary Young talks about how motherhood challenged her to look at ambition in a new way.

Ambition as a Dirty Word

I have always been an ambitious person. As a child, that was never a bad thing; it helped me push to achieve greatness in school, in theater, and in sports. But when I entered the working world after college, ambition became a dirty word.

I was working in television production, which is a notoriously cut-throat industry, and somehow my ambition made me “too much” or “too aggressive” or unaware of my “place” within the ecosystem. After a decade I finally decided to switch industries, but marketing was no better. Although I knew I was a natural born leader, my ambition wasn’t welcome there either

Working in Male Dominated Spaces

I realized that all of the jobs I’d had in my nearly 15-year corporate career all centered around male leaders. And although I didn’t think my behavior was that unlike theirs, I still seemed to get “punished” for it. In the words of the great Taylor Swift, I kept wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.

This became most apparent to me in early 2015, when I was 7-months pregnant with my first child and had requested a work-from-home day during an ice storm. My male boss denied my request, telling me that I was required to either come into the office or use a vacation day.

Not willing to risk my health or the health of my unborn child, I was forced to use a vacation day. But instead of settling in under a cozy blanket and starting a movie marathon, I decided to use my newfound free time to start my own business.

Carving Her Own Path

Propelled forward by rage and years of mistreatment in a system that is set up for ambitious women to fail, I put a business plan together along with a very bad first version of a website I built in Wix. By the time I went out on my maternity leave a few months later, I already had three clients committed to working with me.

I’ve told this story many times over the years–after all, it is the origin story of my business, which I’ve been running now for nearly a decade. But what I’ve never really thought about as much is the fact that motherhood is what ultimately empowered me to overcome my fears, take control of my destiny, and chase my dreams.

I had toyed with running my own business many times over the years. I was a freelancer in television production in NYC, which is not unlike running a business: always hustling, always promoting myself, always looking for the next job. But my fears and insecurities held me back from seeing myself as a person who was strong enough, tough enough, and, yes, ambitious enough to run my own business.

Designing A Flexible Life

Something shifted, however, when I got pregnant with my daughter. I was no longer willing to sacrifice my integrity and my time for other people. My impending motherhood helped me prioritize my life in a whole new way.

The non-negotiables? I wanted flexibility to be able to move seamlessly between my professional role and my role as a mother. I wanted to wake up every day feeling that fire in my belly for the work I was pursuing. I wanted to stop working for men with big egos and help lift up other women.

Ambitious Like a Mother

In the corporate world, motherhood was always talked about as a weakness. But all I felt in my new role as a business owner was incredible strength. That wasn’t only validated by my own experience; it was also proven to me time and time again in the stories many of my clients told me. They too were mothers who had had enough of trying to have it all within the corporate system that had been laid out for us as the only path to success. And they too had been propelled into action after becoming a mother.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally realized I’m proud to be ambitious like a mother.

Hilary Young is a Branding Consultant and Content Strategist with nearly 20 years of professional experience in the storytelling space. Hilary has worked alongside entrepreneurs and marketing teams in order to develop their brand voice, tell powerful stories that connect with the right audience, and yield measurable results that grow their business. Prior to working in marketing, Hilary worked in television production for The Colbert Report, HBO, MTV, VH1 and, where she oversaw production of sponsored content partnerships. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two amazing daughters.

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Hi, I’m Jessi

I created Habituelle Life and Leadership Coaching so that ambitious women can see that finding fulfillment in their personal and professional lives is possible. Redefining success in my own life has allowed me to help others do the same.

I’m here to support you in this journey of evolving identities, inner criticisms, and competing societal messages. We aren’t meant to do this life alone.