Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Value of Dissatisfaction

dissatisfaction by alexandramaria on deviantART

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Since we live so far away from family, we host our own "Lost Boys" Thanksgiving dinner and watch Hook each year. I love taking time to step back and reflect on the bounty in my life.

This year, however, a new perspective struck me. Someone told me he dislikes Thanksgiving because it makes him feel guilty. After nine years on a career track he doesn't love, he's working at a job that is a step back from his last job title. He wants more from his career and more from his life and he feels guilty because he isn't satisfied with where he is at.

I think he has that all wrong (and I told him so). Dissatisfaction is not the antithesis of thankfulness. Recognizing what you have is not the same resigning yourself to the status quo. This is a very valuable lesson for those of us pursuing creative careers while working day jobs, managing homes and chasing children/pets/significant others. Dissatisfaction is what allows us to wake up at (or stay up til) 4 a.m. to chase down a plot point or sacrifice our weekends to a project with no thought of what we will get from it. Dissatisfaction keeps actors going to auditions, programers staring at computer screens and writers buried in notebooks. If we all accepted our given lot, we would not have that drive to create, to be more, to do more. To do better.

Be thankful this season, and all year, but also let yourself become dissatisfied. Let your frustration become inspiration. Turn your disappointment into drive. Don't let it consume you, but let it urge you on to become everything you were meant to be.


  1. First of all--BANGARANG.

    Second--amen to this. If people were never dissatisfied, how would anyone become more than they are? How would we ever progress?

    And if I had a penny for every time my frustration produced something so much better than my normal stuff, I'd be rich by now. I've noticed it so often, that sometimes I have to make myself so frustrated with something that I seriously cannot look at it anymore, and then I put in one last throwaway attempt and the answer comes to me.

  2. Hook is hands down one of my favorite movies. The score, the lighting, the script, the acting. Near perfection. "Oh there you are Peter!" Makes me cry every time. And I don't cry much in movies :)

    I think I need to do a post on the power of procrastination in my life too. I have to push myself to the edge when frustration and adrenaline kick in to get me through to the end. Glad I'm not the only one who needs that force!

  3. I've always loved that theory. (To me it reminds me kind of what's in that famous Ira Glass interview...) But it's disappointment and frustration MIXED WITH knowing that you're almost there. Almost. And if you give up now...you could have been, like, inches away from your dream, but you gave up. So you never touched it.

    Anyway. That's how I think on *good* days. Awesome post, Jenny.

  4. Thanks, Leigh Ann! I really do think we're ALMOST there. Just keep pushing :)