As we head into Thanksgiving week, I decided to begin thinking about what I am thankful for for this year. This year was an unusual list for me, not like any other year. Here are a few of the things I wrote down for which I am thankful: my tough and stoic dad, my mom’s mental health issues, growing up poor, my terrible bosses, my lousy boyfriends, difficult moments with my children, my dilapidated old cars, my long commute, etc.
Although this is not anyone’s conventional, “what I am thankful for,” list, it is for me this year. What I realized, as my mind raced to find the good things in my life, it couldn’t help but stumble on the bad as well. As I thought about the bad things, I asked myself if they really were bad? What I quickly realized was, the things that made life harder, also made me better. The road was bumpy, and often challenging, but the destination was sweet.
My dad was no Mike Brady, but I learned everything from him. My mom’s mental health issues helped me develop my compassion and understanding around this in myself and others, especially during the pandemic. Having financial struggles made me appreciate money and it made me more generous. My terrible bosses taught me how to be a better leader. My lousy boyfriends made me appreciate every second with Doug. My difficult moments with my children made me a better mom. My dilapidated old cars make me so grateful when I get in my nice car. My long commute (of yore) into the city makes me appreciate working from home. As you make your list this year, don’t skip over the “bad” things—they are the things that sculpted you into who you are today.