When it came time for Thanksgiving in grade school, we were always told to make generic lists of the things we were thankful for. Thinking back, we were pretty much forced to be thankful. I could write down whatever I wanted, but that didn't mean I was genuinely appreciative of that entity in my life; that just meant I was fulfilling an assignment. It also meant that I was one step closer to getting to go home so, yeah, I made the lists year after year as I was told. They consisted of things like, I'm thankful for my friends and I'm thankful for my house, and, yeah, I was thankful for these things, but I was never fully educated on what it meant to be thankful.
I'm not sure anyone has been educated on the concept of thankfulness, but I also don't think anyone can be. I think this thankfulness has to come from the realization that nothing is guaranteed and that almost everything in life is temporary. There are things I have that some people don't, and vice-versa. There are things and people that I miss every day, that some people never have to miss. Experience makes us thankful for what we have. I don't know about you all, but my life experience in grade school was very slim. I hadn't experienced much at that point in my life at all. Sure, I wrote things down on a piece of paper, but it wasn't until I came to college that I realized what I am truly thankful for.
This being one of the cliche things I would write on my juvenile lists, I never quite realized how much I really am thankful for the place I call home. Although I consider my school my temporary home away from home, there is nothing quite like being home with my family. Being away at school has helped me appreciate my home even more. I'm sure every college student can attest to this.
Here we go with another generic list item. But, it's true. We appreciate our friends more as we get older because they become our friends for life. We begin to have more things in common with the people we meet in college. These are friendships that really last. Not only have we created new friendships, but we’ve kept the old. We've all moved out and moved on with our lives, adding new people to the picture as we go. But just because we've added the new friends and relationships, doesn't mean the old ones just go away. Sure, some of them will. But those that you do still keep in touch with will always be there for you, and will always bring back happy memories of things you never knew you'd miss.
3. Cheap food.
I remember getting annoyed when my mom would say no to something at the grocery store because it was too much money. I remember thinking, "It's four dollars; what's the big deal?" Well, I'm sorry mom. Really. As a broke college kid, I could not be more thankful for two dollar pizza and coupons galore.
4. That push.
I always hated being forced into situations I would not normally be comfortable in. I would never have been thankful for being pushed to be my best self. I was timid in high school. I was anxious and always worried about what other people thought of me. Although I am still that girl, I've learned to better voice myself and establish a personality within myself that I can be proud of because of those who have pushed me throughout my life.
5. My voice.
I am so grateful to have my voice and my opinions -- no one else's. I used to think I had to morph to other people's opinions, and if I didn't, I felt uncomfortable. College has made me prouder to hold my own opinions; it has made me more comfortable with having my own voice and sticking to my own arguments. Without this, I would be getting nowhere.
6. My parents.
Yes, this is another cliche list item, but I would not be where I am today without them. When I was younger, I had to love my parents. I had to say I was thankful for them or I felt guilty. They had to be on my list because they were family. Today, they're on my list because looking back, I would not have survived without their guidance and support. They pay for way too much. They make decisions for me, and force me to make my own decisions. They hold my hand when I need them to, and they let go when they know it is right. They helped me get to where I am in college, and I know they're proud of me no matter the circumstances.
There are many more things we as college students are more than thankful for, but regardless of what is on your list, we've learned to truly be thankful. We've learned to be genuine and appreciative, not because someone taught us, but because we grew up and became both realistic and impractical. We became both independent and dependent. We became both lost and aware. We became college students.