For All The Times I Didn't Thank You Enough: A Letter To My Parents

For All The Times I Didn't Thank You Enough: A Letter To My Parents

I am eternally grateful.
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Mom and Dad,

It’s not always often that during my busy, twenty year old life full of socializing, shopping and (sometimes) studying, that I really get to sit down and reflect on how lucky I am. I’m sitting in the library of my beautiful private college, well dressed and fed, realizing how truly blessed I am to even be able to write this. Not everybody is as lucky as I am. In a world where it is all too common to come from a broken home or lose a parent to sickness or tragedy, I somehow have God on my side.

Neither of you are thanked nearly enough for everything that you do for me (or my three siblings). Every single day you wake up and do what needs to be done. Whether that be bringing us to countless doctors appointments or working overtime hours during snowstorms to make sure you can provide us with everything we could ever need and more. I grew up in a loving, accepting, enriching environment, and cannot express how truly grateful I am for that. I never want either of you to feel under appreciated.

We were hardly ever told no when we were younger. Obviously we weren’t allowed chocolate for dinner or to get tattoos when we were 12, but our goals and ideas were never squashed. You fostered my crazy notions of becoming whatever I wanted to be when I was older. From a kindergarten teacher to an actress to the first female President of the United States, it was never unattainable according to you. Your support during all of my endeavors has given me the determination and courage to confidently go after my dreams. For this, I thank you.

Even when we weren’t allowed to do something, we were never sentenced to harsh punishments. You never stifled our need to explore and test our limits. Because of this, I never felt the need to rebel. I have never felt the need to lie to either of you. You have created a path of open communication in which we are never scared to ask questions in fear of being chastised. Your laid back, flexible parenting allowed us to explore the world around us knowing you both would be there to catch us when we fall. We have always been allowed to make our own decisions and are given the opportunity to learn and grow from the bad ones. For this, I thank you.

Your lessons on respect are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You taught me the importance of respecting everybody, including myself. I grew up as a good student and a coachable kid because of the way I was taught to speak with kindness and regard people’s decisions with careful consideration. You both have modeled an attitude for us in which you treat the janitor of a building with the same respect as you would treat the CEO. We learned that humans are humans, regardless of money, status, education, etc. Most importantly, you taught me how to respect myself. The way you both love me gave me the confidence necessary to realize my own self worth. You have always taught me to stick up for myself and, even though I’m relatively shy, to never let anybody walk all over me. These two lessons have carried me through my high school and college years. The love you both have for each other taught me what real love looks like. While no love is perfect, it taught me to demand quality from men and to never settle for anything in life, especially love. Knowing I have two parents who love me eliminates the need to seek that love out elsewhere, which isn’t always the case for girls my age. For this, I thank you.

I am eternally grateful for the countless ways you have shown me how important family is. You both have kept everybody together when things were thrown at us with the intention of destroying our bond. If any of us were in trouble, you were the first people by our sides to defend us. You created an environment in which we can come home alone after a horrible day and know each and every member of our family loves and supports us. I look around sometimes and realize that my situation is rare in today’s world. I get to spend every holiday, vacation, and triumphant moment in my life with all of you. Not everybody is that lucky. I owe it to you both for being the glue that holds it all together. It isn’t perfect, but it’s ours. For this, I thank you.

And of course, I couldn’t live without all of the day-to-day things you both do for me. Picking me up from school, taking me to doctors appointments, getting my car fixed (multiple times), answering my midnight phone calls, paying for my tuition/car insurance/phone bill/groceries/shopping habit, killing spiders, letting me sleep in your bed when I’m sick, always being a shoulder to cry on, and continuously providing me with every single opportunity you can to further my success. I know you both are not given enough credit for what you do for us.

I could go on and on, but I honestly cannot imagine living in a world without either of you. Whenever something good happens, you two are the first people I want to tell the news to. And whenever something bad happens, you two are the only people I need love and support from. I know I can tell you anything, from successes to failures, without it being a burden. There are no two people in the world I would rather call my parents. I’m eternally proud to be your daughter. And, for this, I thank you.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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