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How to be Thankful When Life is Falling Apart

Thanksgiving is often a holiday that gets lost in people’s minds on the fast track to Christmas. After just finishing Halloween, some people are not ready for spooky season to end, while some are already blaring “Holly Jolly Christmas.” While it is rarely anyone’s favorite holiday, seemingly just a footnote of fall, Thanksgiving is a holiday that can help bring perspective into people’s lives. Growing up, we were always told to “count our blessings,” as it helps us maintain appreciation and humility for the lives we have, and Thanksgiving embodies this mantra. However, many people find that it is not always easy to find things to be thankful for, especially when life seems to be falling apart.

For us college students, the list of issues we fight daily is long and lengthy. Struggling to keep up with grades, friends, and health can be virtually impossible, as trying to have it all often results in nothing. Cuffing season is a lonely reminder of that one piece of the puzzle that so many people pretend not to look for but will still scavenge the floor looking for where it may have dropped. Seasonal depression haunts a number of students as the weather gets colder and the sun shows its face less and less each day. Personal struggles, family tragedies, massive life changes often all come together in this culmination of unbearable weight. But let me be clear, whether you find yourself still able to carry on or suffocating under this burden, you are not alone, and you are not out of options.

lonely woman looking out a window Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler from Unsplash

I was always told to just focus on the positives, said as nonchalantly as if they were telling me about the weather. As if that did not feel like asking me to find a needle in the haystack. How was I supposed to think about anything other than all the things that were bringing down my life every day? The truth is there is not some switch that you can hit and make those things go away. There is no way to just automatically shift focus and forget about everything that seems to be constantly clouding your mind. It is a process. And this is the first step. Remember who you are, what you want, and what you came to college to do. Personally, every step I take on this campus is a blessing, as I had a number of health issues that made college seem like a distant fantasy. Now I get to walk on this campus that I dreamed about for so long. Even as I’m trying not to get blown away on the Drillfield, I try to remember that I almost did not make it here. 

You have to attempt to find something in your life, no matter how big or small, that you can be thankful for every day. Something that allows you to be who you are, because that is something special that needs to be held on to. You are not the culmination of your problems. Maybe this is the worst thing you have ever been through. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe you are losing yourself. But let this holiday serve as a reminder to be thankful for who you are, and even all that you’ve been through, as it has made you stronger. Remember that all of your friends and family are also incredibly thankful for you. For the amazing student, athlete, friend, girlfriend, daughter, whoever you are, because you are enough.