Dear Friends, Peers, and Internet Strangers,
With Thanksgiving and the holidays rapidly approaching, this time of year lends itself nicely to reflection. Personally, this has been a trying semester for me– a full course load, two jobs, multiple organizations, health issues, trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do after graduation, and making time for friends and family are all factors that have left me feeling as if there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
The other day I sat down and made a list of all the things I was grateful for. This type of activity would usually be too “touchy-feely” for me, but I actually really enjoyed the experience and it put a lot of things into perspective. I encourage you to make your own lists. I think much like me, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to give thanks for than to complain about.
After making my list, I started thinking about the phrase “giving thanks”. A lot of us enjoy Thanksgiving for the delicious food, the football, and the seemingly mandatory nap involved with the holiday, but how many of us truly “give thanks”? What does that even mean?
At least for me, I decided that “giving thanks” entails spreading all of the good and all of the thing you can give thanks for to other people. A lot of people have been blessed with a lot of good in their lives, but how much of it is spread to others?
“Giving thanks” (at least in my definition) can be anything! It can be as simple as words of affirmation to a friend or giving your Grandma a call to tell her that you love her.
I know it is easy to complain about the stress that most college students are feeling around this time of year, but instead of complaining I encourage you to try and see the silver lining in the stress and anxiety you may be feeling. An education is a privilege–one that people around the world die trying to obtain. I don’t know about you, but that kind of puts my “problems” into perspective. No matter who you are, you have some sort of privilege. Your privilege could be your race, gender, sexual orientation, education, ability, socioeconomic class, family, mentors, where you were born, etc. No matter how down or stressed you may feel, I think its important to focus on all the ways you have been blessed in your life.
Especially with the holidays coming up, consider actively trying to think less about your individual struggles, and instead carve out some time in your busy schedule to give thanks and to try and spread kindness. I don’t know about you all, but sometimes I feel completely isolated on this campus on 20,000+ people because everyone seems to be so involved in their own lives. I know we only have 3ish weeks left in the semester, but can you imagine how different our community would feel if all 20,000+ of us were actively engaged and committed to being kind for those 3ish weeks?
I urge you all to take a minute now and take inventory are the thinks you are thankful for and the privileges you have been given. If you want, please feel free to share some of those things in the comments.