As the focal point of ego energy, Ascendant defines how we differ from our environment, for better or worse. We assert our individuality simply by existing – so some degree of tension is inevitable. This conflict, however, does not need to result in fighting – there are other ways to resolve the tension.
This is most apparent when a planet is conjunct the Ascendant: if Jupiter conjoins ASC, then one may feel bigger than the environment, and there may be a sense of wanting to impart energy or inspiration through some kind of performance, a grand-generous behavior. Giving of self, in other words, is the way to resolve the tension.
If Saturn conjoins ASC, then one may feel older, tougher, and more serious than his/her environment. Here the tension is released through accomplishment followed by genuine self confidence.
When Uranus conjoins ASC, a person may feel more progressive and modern compared to her environment – here the urge is to bring newness and excitement into the environment. The conflict with the environment may result in interesting change.
When Neptune conjoins ASC, one may feel to be in another world from the environment. His imagination or ideals must be allowed to be expressed within daily life. The conflict with the “real world” must be resolved by honoring the subtle aspects of life.
When Pluto conjoins ASC, one may feel privy to the deeper, more esoteric aspects of the environment. Then the urge is to bring the hidden part of the reality out into the open. The conflict is often resolved by challenging the superficial status quo, both within oneself and others.
If no planet conjoins the Ascendant, then we could think about its ruler to follow similar reasoning, although to a weaker degree (e.g. Pisces rising could have similar feel to the above description about Neptune conjunct Ascendant, since Neptune rules Pisces.)
Last thought: it may be important to note that these measurements usually do not correspond to the career one follows – we look to the midheaven and its ruler for that. Ascendant has more to do with how one can assert herself within the environment she is in. The conflict of ego and the environment always exists, and Ascendant and its ruler often offer the prescription for effective self assertion.