Ambition and Cookies

Why do we work so hard? Apparently we Americans just work ourselves to the core—remaining connected to our work even at home and on weekends. Then we turn around and dream about the relaxing days that those dang Europeans must have. So why do we push ourselves so hard in the first place? We could just live on less, and take more time to ourselves. Obviously there are more factors going into it, but regardless, the question remains as to why we push ourselves to exhaustion.


I may have overloaded myself this quarter. I have twelve-hour back-to-back days, and barely any time to eat lunch, much less cook. The other day I saw a café across the street that had a hiring sign and had half a mind to give them my resume. Then I stopped and thought, “Seriously? I’ll faint from exhaustion if I do that. Why in the world would I want to be working right now??” And really. Why would I load my schedule so terribly?


I read a recent post of my friend’s that touched on the same concept. She said, in thinking about why she was motivated to work hard, that she was afraid. She cited a fear of failure that pushed her to continue down her path and keep her going through the hardship. She wrote that her end goal would be satisfaction from success. Her dual motivations—fear of failing and need for success—are totally legitimate. But I’m not sure that’s a satisfactory answer for me.


I’m in a Motivation Theories class right now that examines different social motivations for doing things. We’ve looked at a few interesting ones, including a need to avoid closure and a need to belong. The need to avoid closure describes my roommate wonderfully. She’ll talk theory and abstract concepts and possibilities galore. She doesn’t need an answer—the process of thinking about these issues is enough. This want for new discovery and potentials also describes academics, who continually ask new questions. This sort of need may push some to fill their schedules up with more things to learn about and do.

The other concept, the need to belong, refers to the feeling people have to associate with their peers and have social connections. People who have a strong need to belong desire connections with other people similar to them. Thus, filling up a schedule with various activities may be an attempt at making themselves more similar to others to fulfill that.


I can’t say for certain what describes me best. Probably a combination of the two. Probably other theories thrown into the mix as well. I personally also subscribe to at least part of the theory that says people try to attain their “ideal selves,” contrasting that with their current “perceived self.” It’s like this: I see myself as a student right now, from a middle-to-upper class background, who has never been in trouble, always been a good student, but easily wrapped up in my own immediate affairs. But I WANT to be able to a Jane-of-all-trades, able to talk about almost anything intelligently, highly accomplished, and able to see “the other side” of things. So maybe I’m packing my schedule to work my way towards that kind of goal.

Or maybe I’m just crazy and I need a really good reason for wanting cookies all the time. I say that I crave cookies because I’m tired, but maybe that’s all just a ruse so I can eat all the cookies I want and feel justified! Who knows, maybe being tired makes me want cookies that will make me more tired… sugar crash, anyone?


I’m pretty sure that I’ve been subsisting through the day on M&Ms. I mean, those new peanut butter M&Ms are actually better than the other ones that are just too faux-chocolate-y. Not that faux-pb is all that much better. But the variety of chocolate, candy, and peanut butter makes these more addicting, if you ask me.

So when I “adopted” (read: stole) a Safeway M&M cookie from my roommate, it dawned on me that hey, I should just make my own! And then I can have cookies whenever I feel tired over the course of the next few weeks!

Yeah, things always sound better in my head. They definitely didn’t last a few weeks. They didn’t even last a single week. They were just right there whenever I got home all tired, and they were so sweet and soft and yummy and packed with M&Ms… gosh, writing this makes me want to go make another batch!


Well, even if I do, it’ll be perfect for sustaining me through my next week of craziness. One crazy week at a time. And as I eat them, I’ll just think about how unfortunate those poor Europeans are, that they don’t have M&Ms to make cookies with. (Shh! Just let me think what I want, for now)

What do you guys do when you have crazy schedules? What do you think is the reason it was packed so densely?

M&M Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • one 12-ounce package of M&Ms (or peanut butter M&Ms!)


  1. In a bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). With the mixer on low, add in egg and vanilla. Return mixer to medium and mix until incorporated. Scrape sides if needed.
  3. With the mixer back on low, add dry ingredient mixture gradually until dough forms. Stir in M&Ms by hand. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat and set aside.
  4. Form balls from approximately 1 tablespoon of dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are just barely golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheet before removing and placing on wire rack to finish cool. Store in airtight container.

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