I am a problem solver. Persisting through challenges, I possess the freedom to take intellectual risks. My parents call me “Doomatel”, which in Russian, means, “the Thinker.” I spend hours unintentionally analyzing data, whether it be a sudden change in weather or one of Walt Whitman’s elaborate poems, for I see my world through the scientific lens of data, research, and discovery.
On any given day, I pause, and realize that if it were not for my family’s decision to emigrate to the United States from Russia, then my chances of passionately pursuing the luxury of intellectual curiosity – the ability to delve into why happiness exists or what motivates us- would probably be very slim. My parents escaped persecution, discrimination, fear, and economic hardship in Russia, all while in search of a chance to create a successful future. Forced to adapt to a new form of living, they used their everyday experiences to learn how to evaluate courses of action that would lead them to either success or failure.
Their sacrifices of the past exist for me today in order to emphasize the gravity embodied by making a singular decision. My parents’ struggles are the fabric of my personal narrative, and from them, I learned the importance of taking chances and finding the most efficient ways to dissect various obstacles.
Appreciating my parents background made me realize that nothing worthwhile in life comes without effort and struggle. Often, people believe that by simply doing what they love all the time, they will reach their goals. If I were to do what I love all the time, I would live with the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, spend my time discovering new places, traveling the world, relaxing under a palm tree somewhere in the tropics, and sampling the world’s finest chocolate. Sometimes though, it takes stepping out of the way of your own trajectory to accept the reality of that which you love. For me, stepping out of my own way by doing something I normally wouldn’t do, was a risk. However, it was a risk that I needed to take. I took this risk of personal discovery while teaching a large group of three-year olds—twenty to be exact—on a tennis court. My job was to physically teach these toddlers the game of tennis. Both impatience and frustration would take over me as rackets flew wildly, knees scraped mercilessly, and equipment broke unforgivingly. The game I love, which was once so relaxing and mentally stimulating, became one of my greatest burdens as I watched screaming toddlers strike one another with bright yellow balls. It wasn’t until the end of a two-hour long lesson that one of my students ran up to me. Expecting to hear a complaint, I was surprised when the curly-haired boy handed me a crumpled note. “Thank you” and a picture of two smiling stick figures, each with a tennis racket, one labeled “You” and the other “Me,” was all it took to make me smile.
It took me a minute to understand that all of my strain had managed to bring happiness to this one student. I felt appreciated. I realized that through my work, there now was someone else who may feel as amorous about tennis as I feel. From that moment, coaching younger children was no longer a burden. Instead, coaching had become an opportunity to share my passion for the game and to re-discover my personal drive.
I think that I will always be a “Doomatel”. I open-heartedly embrace the challenge of tough choices as they make me feel alive and motivated. They act as a puzzle, forcing me to spend time searching for the essence of each piece until I can finally reveal a masterpiece.
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