Be Gentle, and Be Grateful

I am ungrateful. I am selfish, self-centered, headstrong (and I don’t mean in the best way), and ungrateful. I look gift horses in the mouth on a regular basis. I look at some blessings as curses, as inconvenient, ignoring the lessons they can provide. I procrastinate, I complain, and I make mountains out of mole hills. I am thankless, and I am ungrateful. Let me explain.

Women Looking Through Fence

I grew up poor, with limited resources and opportunities. When the 90’s recession hit, my family went from lower middle class to just lower class. Food banks provided food for us to “quiet the stomach rumblings” on hungry days, and one-room motel rooms filled with six family members afford us the luxury of having a roof over our heads to fight the frigid-ness of bitter New England winters that threatened our lives. Underpaid teachers, themselves one paycheck away from the cold streets, took an interest and pity on us kids who lived childhoods of hardships. They spent their weekends rescuing me and others like me from our realities, introducing us to art and culture via public museums, and weekend science camps (of which they paid the small stipend from their own pockets). And still, I am ungrateful.

Flowers in Concrete

Instead of maximizing these opportunities with zest and zeal, I took them for granted. As a child, they were fun activities, but by the time I became a teenager, the allure of the fast hood life became more appealing. I was still a good student, but a “good enough” student, not a great one. I didn’t work harder, but did just enough to still be considered intelligent and graduate in the top 10% of my class. Granted, working two jobs at one point in my high school career made schoolwork a little harder, but procrastination was my devil. Even with my “just get by” attitude, I was still singled out and offered chances to excel. I was given the opportunity to work in corporate America at 17 by a dear friend of mine, who put me in front of the right people to ensure that I could and would succeed. And even still, I was am ungrateful.

Warning Cat

I took that opportunity, worked hard, but wasn’t careful and didn’t take it as seriously as I could have. I did enough to be slightly better than average, but was careless in my personal life. I ended up getting pregnant at 19, but continued to work full-time and attend college, but this time, worked a little harder. There is nothing more motivating than the suddenness of limited time and resources to set fire to someone. And STILL, I am ungrateful. But how?

Lake Reflection

It’s because my ingratitude isn’t geared towards the people who were placed strategically in my life, because they were and still are invaluable pieces of my life puzzle and growth. This ingratitude that I feel is focused inwardly. I look back on my life, and even as I write this, I still see it as not enough. I see many aspects of it as wasteful, and I believe that I could have and should have done more, BEEN more. It is rare that I reminisce on my journey with sweet wistfulness or a sense of pride, but more so with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I AM UNGRATEFUL.

Sunshine Shoes

It is in writing this, sharing these insecurities, that I hope to heal this way of thinking. When we compare ourselves to others, we will almost always come up short. Our insecurities will continue to get in the way of self-gratitude and self-appreciation, if we don’t actively practice feeling thankful. I tell myself I am grateful, but it is always with my circumstances and other people, never with myself. If we can’t look back on our struggles with fondness and appreciation for our struggles and wins, we can never truly enjoy our present, and thus never effectively plan for our future. We will ALWAYS feel stuck in a rut and not good enough. Today, I vow to appreciate where I came from, what I’ve accomplished, and to be grateful for all that cultivated me into the woman I am now. Today, and for every day thereafter, I AM GRATEFUL.

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