A Greek philosopher once said, “The world is nothing but a great desire to live and a great dissatisfaction with living.” I believe dissatisfaction is what drives us.
I am a Russian immigrant who came to this country twelve years ago to pursue my dream of love. I had a dream to find my other half, not a knight on a white horse, but an honest, sensitive and intelligent man who would share my ideals and love me for who I was. I could have settled for a lucrative career of a single independent woman or a business transaction of a marriage to a man that is good enough. But I chose not to. Yes, I had fear and doubts. I was afraid to let go of what I had. I had no idea what waited for me ahead, but dissatisfaction with emptiness in my life pushed me to take risk and to make a leap of faith. If I were willing to put up with a loveless existence, I would have never found my husband, an ocean away from me, who is my soulmate, my friend, and the father of my children. Not having him in my life today is a scary thought.
My life has not become a fairy-tale, nor did I want it to. After coming to the US, I realized what it means to be an alien in a country of opportunities. A university graduate and an enlightened thinker and reader, the best I could do was to find clerical work through a temp agency. I made minimum wage and lived close to the beach. My husband provided and I had a comfortable life. But dissatisfaction was nudging me. I felt I could do more. One day I stumbled upon an ad for a Master’s degree. Although I broke into cold sweat every time I thought of it, I couldn’t forget the ad. It took me a year and a half to earn a Master’s degree in teaching. If I was satisfied with my quite cubicle and daily games of solitaire on the office computer, I would have never found my calling. Teaching is what gives my life meaning.
But the path to becoming a college instructor was far from smooth. I started as a part time instructor of writing. Bouncing between colleges, I was teaching five or six classes a day, most of the time too hungry and too tired to teach the evening class. It was sink or swim. I knew I had to keep pushing, no matter how hard it seemed. I designed my PowerPoint’s and assignments, graded mountains of essays, and practiced my lectures in the car, yelling loud enough to beat the radio while making my two-hour commute. Although I was overwhelmed with the work load, I didn’t lose sight of my students. I realized that they needed more than a lecturing teacher. They needed support, counseling, tutoring, and the atmosphere of a learning community to stay in school and succeed. I saw students in my remedial classes struggle and I wanted to help. I realized that as a full time faculty I could participate in the decision-making progress and make a difference in my students’ lives. If I ignored that some of my students were “falling through the cracks” of the college system, I would have never joined the team of faculty willing to work with at-risk students and give them as much help and support as they need to succeed.
Five years into my teaching career, I am happy but not satisfied. I am a proud mother of two, working shoulder-to-shoulder with my husband, who is also a college instructor. But I know I can do more. I want to go back to school to get my Ph.D. , do research, write a book. I hope I will never feel completely satisfied, for that would be the end of my growth and change for the better.
Perhaps, it was dissatisfaction that led more than 50% of us to vote for Barack Obama this year. I know it was for me, my dissatisfaction with dishonesty, favoritism, narrowmindedness, and injustice. Perhaps, we have a lot more in common than we think, and I guess it is not a bad thing to share dissatisfaction for things that make us regress.