Does Personal Ambition Make Us Less “Fit”?

January 26, 2008 at 1:20 am (evolution, feminism)

Evolutionarily speaking – Does ambition to seek higher education and a prestigious career go against our innate drive to procreate?  A conversation I had with a friend today got me thinking about this.  He mentioned to me how many Western European countries and China currently have birth rates that are to low to keep pace with the death rates.  The trend isn’t quite that dramatic in the U.S. (go figure), but it seems that countries with more educated and “professional” populations are the ones with declining birth rates.  Aren’t we always hearing news-fluff stories about how women are waiting until they are older and more professionally established to have children – often with negative repercussions for her fertility?
Putting political correctness aside, let’s face it – its not the women that are seeking masters, PhD’s and upwardly mobile careers that are popping out 4, 5 or more children.  And of course, of course, of course, there are exceptions to every rule!  Speaking in evolutionary terms, women that choose to wait until they have achieved their educational and career goals, until they have put away some money and established a home, until they have been married for a couple years – these women are less fit than women who start having children in their early 20’s and have a herd of them.  Taking myself and my friends as examples, I will not graduate until I’m 27, I’ll marry when I’m 27 and if I have a child – and that’s a big IF – it won’t be until I’m nearly 30.  At that point, I’d be lucky to have one or two, three at the most (god-forbid).

If this is truly the case, then in order to perpetuate one’s own personal blood line, wouldn’t we encourage our own children against seeking out ambitious goals, thus ensuring the continuation of our lineage?  Well, at least with my parents, this was certainly NOT the case, and it is not the case with most parents.  We are always hearing that children are encouraged above all else to get the most education they possibly can and to achieve their own goals in life.  Have we, as humans, evolved beyond the point of the blind urge to pass on our own genes?  It is now culturally acceptable and encouraged for one to find their own true happiness before settling down with a spouse and kids.  It seems that we have surpassed pure species perpetuation and moved onto self-gratification.  And I’m not saying that either is better, but it is truly interesting.

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The Blackhole of Laziness

January 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm (grad school, random thoughts)

I have officially fallen into the black hole of laziness.  I have been away from the lab for a while now, a thousand miles away in fact, and I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation.  The trouble is, I’m having some major motivational issues.  First were the holidays.  Who would possibly expect me to work on my dissertation over the holidays?  There was the pre-Christmas weekend out with my family, then the actual Christmas holiday with my sweetie’s family.  Then he had the week off so I again couldn’t force myself to work when we were both at home all day relaxing and being lazy.  Then New Year’s came and went and I have felt myself doing the back-slide into total slackerdome.

What many of you non-slackers out there may not realize is that laziness really does build on itself.  Once you take a week or more off, getting up any time before 10 am really seems like an insurmountable task.  Then once you do get up you’ve gotten used to eating a leisurely breakfast and watching your morning trash on TV, so working before lunch time becomes harder and harder.  So the sweet spot for me has become those couple hours between lunch and when my sweetie gets home from work.  Well, that is unless I feel tired and need to take a nap sometime before 5.  I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I do know how very pathetic that all sounds.

For me, another factor that feeds the laziness downward spiral is that when you have so many things on your plate (for me its the dissertation, wedding planning and job hunting), it is overwhelming to start on any of the projects so I choose to do none.  That makes sense, right?

Jeez, I really need to break the cycle!  And I’m gonna do it this week.  No yearly resolution for me, just a goal for today.  Get my butt in gear at the gym this morning and then get a few pages done on the Beast (what I will henceforth call my dissertation).  No more whining, complaining or procrastinating…although I won’t rule out that afternoon nap!

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