A Different Kind of Thankful

Every year around Thanksgiving, people count their blessings and give thanks. I also do this, but it’s throughout all of November; that’s so I can avoid feeling neglectful of things I should appreciate year-round. During the entire month of November, I find myself being thankful while doing mundane things and will think things to myself like, “Wow, I am so thankful for this chunk of chicken” or “Man oh man, I am sure glad I have my own room and my own bed.” Then, I get all in my feels about being thankful for friends and family, so I write a bunch of letters. This year was no different; every day, I have thought about how thankful I am for my family, friends, and all loved ones, as well as how I’m thankful for my education and my ability to continue learning as I get older and my life (with all its contents). After thinking about all the usual things I give thanks to, it dawned on me that I also have more unconventional things I am thankful for. So here is a list of 10 things that I am a different kind of thankful for.

 

  • Ex-boyfriends

What a weird one to start the list off with, right? I agree! But, I think it is a good place to start. I have a couple exes out there who have taught me a lot of things. At the time, I wasn't so thankful; but I absolutely am now. Having an ex has taught me that I can be perfectly happy alone and that I do not need a man in my life to be content. Post-breakup, I was heartbroken and didn't think I would ever recover. I thought I would be miserable forever because I had experienced a breakup with a boyfriend who doubled as a built-in best friend. But now, I realize I am much stronger than I originally thought. I was able to recover from heartbreak and move on to bigger and better things for myself. My exes taught me what I deserve, as well as what I want and do not want in life. I learned that getting over the hurt from things said from a loved one never go away, so I should always be careful with what I say. I really am thankful for everything my exes have taught me about myself and about relationships in general.

 

  • Ex best friends

Speaking of exes… ex best friends hurt the most. There is an abundance of reasons behind these friendship endings, but the biggest persists as simply falling away from each other. There are no tragic stories; we just started to live our lives which led us in different directions. I can’t say I am necessarily thankful that I have ex best friends because I (1) miss them like crazy, and (2) wish each and every one of them were still a part of my life, but I can say I am thankful for the things I have learned from losing best friends. Some of the friends I lost were ones we promised each other would last a lifetime, so not having a finite reason for losing the connection hurts a little. However, this taught me that there shouldn’t be a “best” in friends and the value of appreciating each friend for their own “best” quality. I think that if I only had one best friend in my entire life, I never would have gotten the chance to meet all the new friends I have now... so for that, I am forever thankful.     

 

 

  • “Strict” parents

My parents were never crazy strict or anything, but they were good parents. When I was little, I took good parenting as “strict.” My parents raised me to be respectful and hard-working, but I sometimes misinterpreted that as strictness at a young age; I didn’t grasp the idea that they were raising me to be a good and well-rounded person. This is something I am forever grateful for. When I came to college, I was absolutely shocked at how many people couldn't do laundry, dishes, clean, or do anything for themselves. So many people I met didn't go to classes and really didn't do anything at all here at school but sleep and party. A lot of people told me their parents did everything for them back home, so they just didn't know how to take care of themselves; they had no motivation to work hard because they never really learned how to and they weren't expected to at home. This came as a shock to me and a huge THANK YOU to my mom and dad for making me do things I didn't want to do growing up because now, it all comes naturally to me. I work hard and take care of myself because my parents raised me to do so. I can't even put into words how thankful I am for that.   

 

  • Money from Mom and Dad

This is another THANK YOU to my parents. Ever since I started enjoying going shopping, I had to pay for my own clothes. My parents didn’t give me an allowance, and they didn't pay for the things outside of my necessities. I was expected to pay for the things I wanted which makes perfect sense to me because that's the way I was raised. I’ll be the first to say it STINKS! Sure, I would love if my mom bought all my clothes and if my parents just handed me money when I wanted to do things, but that just isn't reality. I understand the value of money, and I work hard for the things that I want and need. I pay for my own college, food, clothes, and anything I want to do all comes from me. Next year, I’ll pay rent and buy myself groceries; I’ll have to work hard to balance my money, but that is so important to learn. I am so thankful that my parents started teaching me about money early. My parents still pay for a lot of my things and I am also forever grateful for that, but understanding money doesn't just grow on trees has made me such a smarter person. I feel so much more independent and ready for the “real world” because I know how to spend money wisely… and it makes me appreciate when my mom visits and buys me groceries even more!

 

 

  • That school doesn't come easy for me

This one has been such a pain in the butt. I wish school came easy-peasy for me––life would be so much easier! But since it doesn’t, I taught myself to be thankful for it. Because I’m not the greatest at test-taking and absorbing information, I have to work extra hard just to be an average student; that's always been something that was hard for me to come to terms with. Now, though, I am thankful I have to work a little harder. It makes me aware of what I am doing in classes, which helps me avoid just going through the motions of lecture, test, repeat. It’s taught me attention and focus. I get a lot more out of school this way and really connect to what I’m learning. As frustrating as it is, I am thankful for this because it makes me work harder and understand and really appreciate what I’m learning about.   

 

  • That I didn't pass my first major class

Hmm, speaking of school not being easy… Yes, as embarrassing as it is, I had to retake my very first class specific to my major. Needing a B to pass, I got a C. Needless to say, I was very, very upset. Not passing my very first class tailored to my major made me really think about my major, and I had to decide if English teaching was really what I wanted to do. I considered changing my major, dropping out… you name it, I considered it. Looking back now, though, I am thankful I had to retake the class because it DID make me really consider my major. After not passing a class and still continuing with the major, it proved to myself I really do love my major and I absolutely want to do it for the rest of my life.

 

 

  • That I didn't get into a class I needed

In college, getting into the classes you need is vital. If you don’t get into the right classes at the right time, it can delay graduation. So when I didn’t get into a huge class that I NEEDED, I cried, proceeded to have a full-blown hissy fit, and just picked the first class that met the most goals I needed. And boy am I glad that I didn’t get into that class! Turns out, it really wasn’t essential that I be in it at that exact moment. But I was a freshman and didn’t understand that, whoops! I ended up taking a class called “Human Nature, Politics and Violence,” which was a class very out of my comfort zone and far from my major. I ended up absolutely loving it, though, because it made me think about life and it completely opened up my eyes to a whole new world. I loved the class and could not be more thankful for that “essential” class I thought I needed (eyeroll for dumb freshman Kellen) being full.   

 

  • That I don't have strong political or religious views

After taking Human Nature, Politics and Violence, I realized how thankful I am that I don’t have strong political or religious views. I would love to just know what my views are but I haven't really figured them out yet. As frustrating as that may be sometimes, I’ve realized it’s okay. I’m still growing and learning, but one day I know I’ll figure it out… that day just isn’t today and probably won’t be tomorrow, either. Not having really strong views has allowed me to see all sides of every situation without a personal bias. I am able to see the world objectively and that is something I am extremely thankful for.  

 

 

  • Personal involvement

I cringed as I typed this one, because am I really? I know I am thankful for this one deep down, but there is a part of me that just wants to watch Netflix and nap instead of running to meetings, class, or work in what seems like a never-ending circle. I complain about it a lot and how I hate my busy schedule, my inability to hang out with friends, and my commitment to be a normal college kid. I hate that I fill my schedule from top to bottom with no empty spaces. Thank goodness for Google calendar, amiright? Currently, I have a full class load, work two jobs averaging 25+ hours a week, hold an executive position in Residence and Housing Life and an executive position in National Residence Hall Honorary, write for Her Campus (duh), write for my campus newspaper, and am the president of the WSU Running Club. I fill my plate way too full because I love being involved. I love being involved but I hate being busy, what a fun coincidence that is! As stressed out and frustrated as I get, I am so thankful I’m busy. Through work, clubs and involvement, I have met some of the most amazing people who are just like me. I love being surrounded by people who are constantly looking for the next project to do or the next time-consuming activity. I’m thankful that I am so busy because it teaches me how to be productive. I learned that in 24 hours, I can get so much done if I don’t take naps and watch Netflix. Now, when I do have free time, I feel guilty enjoying my down-time with some TV or naps, so I just get more things done. I am so thankful I pile my plate high with things to do because the transition from college to the real world will be so much smoother since I will know how to balance my time far more efficiently, which is something I would know less about if I allowed myself ample free time.

 

  • That my life isn’t perfect

After looking at all the things in my life that I’m thankful and not so thankful for, I’m so thankful my life is not perfect. All the imperfections make it interesting. Sometimes I get a good laugh out of things that go wrong. And sometimes, things even get better from being imperfect. All the perfections and imperfections in my life add up to be something really special; I’m forever thankful for the life I have been given.