Today in the United States, families and friends gather to celebrate my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. It is the one holiday where gifts are not exchanged and expectations do not hang over our heads. Simply delicious food is eaten and stories and laughs are shared.
I am spending this Thanksgiving in a very different place than last year – both physically and figuratively. A year ago I was suffocating in discontentment and burying my soul’s cries for help with defective relationships and endless hours of work. After taking a moment to reassess everything, I realized that this life– the way I was living, my job, and flawed relationships – was not the end all, be all. That there was more to this life than what I was living. So with hard work, preparation, and encouragement, I transformed it all. I am now in control of my destiny and am no longer a passive victim of the universe.
However, I would not be at this point in my journey nor at this level of confidence in my being without every trial I encountered or feat I accomplished. So with that, I offer infinite thanks to every soul I have ever met. Everyone has guided me on my journey and shaped its path along the way.
I thank my parents for showing me what unconditional love truly is. The past eight years have not been a smooth ride; however, at the end of the day family is all we have. You both have taught me what I deserve in life - out of a partner, out of a job. You have pushed me to strive for excellence and to work hard for success. Thank you for not spoiling me or shielding me from life’s truths and harsh realities. Your encouragement has motivated me to follow through with my dreams and to never settle for average. The way you speak of me with pride means more to me than you know.
I thank my family and relatives for always offering their love to me. Every shared meal, vacation, and holiday is special because of the warmth and comfort you bring. You are relentlessly there for me with your prayers and affection.
I thank my friends for being my support system and rocks to lean on; for listening to my worries and offering advice and guidance. You all have believed in me more so than myself at times and lifted my spirits when they were shattered on the floor. Thank you for memorable nights and countless stories and the bonds we have formed over the years.
I thank all of my previous relationships - I should honestly send each one of you a fruit basket. You have all taught me how to be vulnerable and share my heart and feelings. Yet, you have also taught me what I truly want and deserve in a partner. I have realized that I need to learn from each relationship, take what I need out of it, digest the lessons, and carry them onto the next – never settling for unhappiness or the ease of contentment. If it is not a healthy, passionate, equal and loving relationship, my heart and being cannot be a part of it.
I thank my teachers for opening a world of possibility and beauty. This under-appreciated profession is the reason we are all here today and why each of us can claim any success or ability. Without my great teachers, I would not have fallen in love with history, culture, and Europe. I would not have wanted to emulate their capabilities and to follow their footsteps into this career.
Lastly, I thank ALL of the hardship in my life. I would not know this level of happiness if I have never felt the pain of sadness. Every mistake, wrong turn, fight, and heartache has brought me here to this point. There have been many pivotal moments where I questioned “why me?” However, now I question “what am I supposed to learn from this?” Looking back, I realize that some of my most horrific memories are the reasons why my path changed and why my journey has revealed itself this way. Each experience has offered a lesson to be taught that has shaped my character. Every soul in this life has their own battle to fight and my problems could always be worse. Rather than wallow in the pain, it is better to wear my scars proudly and move forward, humbled by what I have learned.
My growth is not complete and my journey is not nearly over, I still have so much to experience. I feel as though I have already lived a few lives and am ready to settle into this new era of play and endless opportunity.
So I send my thanks, love and prayers from my new home in Florence to everyone I have encountered in the past 23 years of this life. Without you all, I may have settled for unhappiness in a small town in the states. You gave me the push to no longer fantasize ‘what if?’ and to finally live out my dreams. I look forward to my future encounters and relationships, knowing there are reasons our paths will cross.
We should all enjoy this day in perfect grace and give thanks to all the blessings we have been given.