Just like how some people feel Valentine’s Day is futile because you should show the ones you love how much you appreciate them all year long and not just pent up in one day.
Growing up, I was a pretty angry child. I would always find reasons to resent people, hold grudges, never forgive nor forget, and always wish I had more of something or a better version of something.
I could never just be thankful for anything I had. I never dealt well with appreciating things and always took them for granted.
After growing a sense of hatred towards my parents, being isolated from my peers, and dealing with a long-lasting internal emotional war, I turned into this iced-over recluse.
I never wanted say “thank you” to anyone. I never knew how to handle compliments. Never knew how to give compliments. I was pompous to say the least.
After growing up a little, experiencing the calamitous deaths of family and friends, being surrounded by people who grew up with few privileges, and learning things the hard way… I finally realized I needed to be more humble and appreciative of the life I had.
I saw people who had more undesirable lives than I had, yet they still showed up with a positive attitude every day and could walk around with their heads held high. So, why was it so hard for me to do the same?
When I took a step back and evaluated the type of people I am attracted to (not in terms of a partner, just as a human being), I realized that I encompassed none of the things I looked for in a friend. I was nothing like the people I wanted to be surrounded with. I asked myself, “If I were someone else, would I want to be my friend?”
The answer was no. After coming to terms and accepting the fact that I needed to make some changes, it was difficult to adapt into the person I knew I wanted to be. For so long, I embodied this ungrateful person and it was challenging for me to change my mindset.
I never listened to the advice anyone gave me growing up and had to learn the hard way that they were right.
One of the most valuable things I learned to appreciate over the years is family comes first. Even though my parents were far too overprotective and didn’t handle everything the best they could, at least I still had both of my parents around.
Both my mom and dad raised me under one roof in a nice home and always provided me with clothes on my back and food on the table.
They could have gotten divorced, paid no attention to me, neglected the house, failed to provide me with basic necessities… but they didn’t. They did everything parents are supposed to do. Sure, they weren’t the best at being there for me emotionally, but some journeys need to be traveled alone.
Not only that, but growing up I was extremely rebellious. I never realized how hard I must have made it on my parents to deal with a child like me. I put my “friends” before them and took advantage of every opportunity I had to sabotage them and make them restless at night.
Today, I am so thankful they still love me as much as they do.
I wrote a blog last week stating the reasons why I wouldn’t want kids. One of the reasons I didn’t list on there is because I wouldn’t want to have to raise a kid like me.
I don’t know how my parents put up with me half the time, but I am grateful they did and that they still love me unconditionally despite the years of turmoil.
This especially applies to my dad. I can’t even remember the last time I told my dad I love him. Even though he was one of the main reasons why I felt the need to be so rebellious, I know he loves me. As hard as it is to admit that and as much hatred and resentment that grew inside me, I know that he cares. He always offers to give me money when I really need it, always offered to buy me things as a kid when my mom said no, always snuck candy to me before dinner, always found time to play with me, and was always trying to become a prominent part of my life (even though at times I felt he was just intruding and butting in too much). Not to mention, he continued to tell me he loved me even though I never said it back.
He is also the reason my family finally got a dog (something I had wanted for years as a kid). He put in half of the effort it took to raise me but I brushed all of these factors aside because I felt my hatred and stubbornness were more important. But in the end, it only made me angry and negative. The only person I was really hurting on a day-to-day basis was myself and I continued to rot in my own emotional mess.
After seeing friends lose their fathers, I realized that life is so short and tragedies happen. I don’t think I could live with myself if something happened to my dad knowing that the last time I told him I love him was years ago. I couldn’t even imagine how he would feel laying on his deathbed thinking his daughter hated him her whole life.
I am so thankful for my dad, even though he probably never received that compassion from me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for him. I am thankful for the good and bad times because I wouldn’t be me otherwise. Without him, I wouldn’t be in college, have a dog that I love with every fiber of my soul, have half the things I own today, have the morals and standards I have for people, or have any sort of positive attitude towards life.
I just wish I learned to put our differences aside sooner because now, years have been lost that I will never get back to repay my dad for everything he has done for me.
I am also thankful for the people that have come in and out of my life. Whether we ended on bad terms or continue as friends, every person that has walked into my life has made some sort of lasting impact on me that has helped me shape my values and standards elsewhere.
I am also thankful for every relationship I have been in. Even those who seriously hurt me have helped me become a better person. Them not loving me was the beginning of me loving myself, which is a something I struggled to do for a long time. Self-acceptance was so hard for me growing up because I constantly had this notion instilled in me that I wasn’t special; that I had nothing to offer and would never be good enough or amount to anything important.
When people would ask me to name the things I love, I never thought to place myself on that list.
I am thankful that I am finally able to say I love myself.
That is not to say my boyfriends in the past have never cared about me because they definitely have… otherwise the breakups wouldn’t have been so painful. I am also thankful that I had the chance to experience being loved by another person (outside of my immediate family). It’s cliché, but it really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.
I am so thankful for the opportunities that have been placed before me in terms of my goals, my career, my friends, my hobbies, etc. I feel I have a lot of things to be proud of and a lot of talents to offer to the world, but that would not have been possible had I not had fortunate opportunities come my way.
My life could have turned out so much worse and thinking about my advantages makes me appreciative of the life I have had thus far.
People who have it rough would look at my life and laugh and say, “You don’t even know what having a tough life really looks like.”
And they’re right. Because even the people who have so little can still be so appreciative of the life they were dealt.
This really put things in perspective for me. There is absolutely no reason to not love myself or the life I was given. Everyone has struggles, pains, hardships, and problems. It’s just a matter of how you deal with them and how they affect your outlook on life. Life is too short to be unhappy and ungrateful. I want to leave this planet knowing I had it good, despite my troubles. I want to take a smile and amazing memories to my grave… and it all starts with a huge THANK YOU.