I'm 19 (!!) + 19 Things I'm Grateful For

4.03.2020

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
- Michelle Obama, Becoming

Happy Friday all! I write to you now as a 19-year-old. I feel exactly the same, but I can't believe that I'm now living through my last year of being a teenager (aah!). Although I remained at home for social distancing, I am fortunate that my loved ones made me feel celebrated all the same. My younger sister is crafty, and made me a DIY chapstick of her own design. While still on campus, some of my college hallmates had planned to surprise me with a UN-themed murder mystery dinner. Even though we are now at home, my friends still insisted on holding the mystery over Zoom. I was so happy to reunite with my hall, even if for a moment over a computer screen.

I was blown away by my friends' efforts-- two of them penned a 100+ page-long script, filled with character dossiers, receipts, and even a love letter. After my birthday, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for the kindness of people in my community. As I reflect on these experiences and growing older, I want to take a moment to acknowledge some things that I am grateful for amidst the craziness of this time.

I am grateful for...

1. "Blue skies, smiling at me." This song lyric comes from a song called Blue Skies, one of my favorite pieces my choir performed last year. When it comes, I am grateful for warm weather that invites me outside. I joke with my friends that I must be at least part plant, because being in the sun makes me feel so much more energetic. I love running barefoot in the grass. I love the nights when it's warm enough to sit outside and watch the stars and talk for hours. I love being outside and feeling the warm air on my skin, and the days are just starting to transition into my favorite period of weather, the sweet spot where the temperature sits between the 60s and 70s.

2. Rice. And kimchi. And crunchy cucumbers and soft sweet potatoes and savory spinach, the foods I missed the most from home when I was at college. Also, fruits: while at school it was not uncommon for me to eat two or even three apples or oranges a day.

3. Good music and good books. Lately, one of my favorite activities to relax has been bullet journaling or writing while listening to soft pop. For as long as I can remember, reading has provided me with escape, empathy, and entertainment. With these two things, I can be happy.

4. Hoop earrings. Something about hoop earrings makes me feel powerful. I wear them on the days that I need a little more motivation, at Model UN conferences, and for job interviews.

5. My body. Especially in high school, I wasted so much time wishing that my body was something else. One of the most liberating experiences of my senior year was quitting the track team and instead prioritizing physical activity that made me feel happy. I still struggle sometimes, but rather than viewing exercise as something punitive to achieve a certain look or weight, I've striven to make it a time to focus on myself regardless of the day's schedule. I love running now more than I ever have before. The day before my birthday, I spontaneously ran my first half-marathon, in slow circles around the loops of my neighborhood. I did it for me, because I wanted to, and I enjoyed it.

6. Wednesdays. The weekends get a lot of hype, but I appreciate Wednesdays because they mark that I've made it halfway through the week, and that deserves some recognition.

7. Libraries. They're amazing. I enter looking for a book that I picked out in advance. Inside, I am easily distracted by a shelf here and a title there. Suddenly, it's been two hours and I am leaving with a stack of sixteen books that I have no chance of finishing in two weeks.

8. My family. The older I get, the more I appreciate and am amazed by my mother's strength. I love my younger sister's sass and energy, and I missed hearing from her at college.

9. Random acts of kindness. I am inspired to see communities finding ways to unite even in a time that requires distance.

10. Having great teachers. I am fortunate to have had wonderful teachers throughout primary and secondary education. I have had teachers that patiently walked me through material despite the additional time, that mentored me through personal difficulties, that taught me to write and to think, that encouraged my love of learning, and that made me believe I could become anything I wanted to be.

11. That things didn't always turn out the way I wanted. I used to believe that because outcomes could differ from my expectations, hard work doesn't pay off. I now realize that sometimes what is best is unexpected and even initially painful. I have learned a lot about my values and what I hold important from transitions. Unexpectedness brought me to elementary, middle, and high school in three different states, where I engaged with different people and learned different things. Unexpectedness also brought me to the College of William & Mary, where I have met so many kind, driven, and inspiring students. I am a product of change.

12. Sweatshirts and blankets. When my university closed, I left most of my clothes on campus. I unfortunately forgot that the weather up north is much colder than it was in Virginia, and I packed one sweater. It's gray with wide white stripes and a little itchy, but it's so warm.

13. Those moments when you're walking by an acquaintance or even a stranger, and you smile or say hello. I've felt this a lot especially on my recent runs-- others acknowledging me with a wave or a nod, as if to say hey, I am running too!

14. The power of milk. I tried hot chocolate and tea with milk for the first time this year, and both left me dumbfounded. Hot chocolate and tea are so, so much better with milk than with water.

15. My friends. Spending more time at home paired with moving towards the conclusion of my freshman year of college has made me reflect on the fluidity of relationships. William & Mary is the sixth school that I've attended. At every place I've lived, I've met people that made my experience memorable. We may not be the same people we were in middle school, for example, but we gave each other pieces of ourselves at that time, and to me, that's incredible. I also just find being able to connect and reconnect with others to be really cool-- whether it's a friend from college I talk to nearly every day, a friend from high school who's now at home too, or a friend from middle school I hadn't heard from in ages.

16. The periods of time when I'm "in the zone." Sometimes it's when I have a particularly good run. Other times, writing flows more easily, or an hour on schoolwork feels like five minutes. These moments always happen when I'm doing something I genuinely enjoy.

17. Pictures. I am fascinated with the idea of capturing moments. It's part of why I love to write. I love making collages to look back on in moments of need or nostalgia. My walls in my college dorm and at home are covered in photos.

18. Shoelaces. Crazy but true story: my friend locked herself out of her car, and we followed a YouTube tutorial to unlock her door with my purple, slightly muddied shoelace. One of the proudest moments of my life was hearing the click of the lock after we had stood in the parking lot for at least half an hour, trying to shimmy my shoelace with a knot tied at the end through the car window.

19. You. This small community online has provided me with an outlet for my random thoughts on books, projects, and everything in between since I was a middle school student, maybe 12 or 13 years old. I am convinced that blogging was my first love. No matter how long the hiatus, or how life obligations ebb and flow, I always come back.
How was your week? What are some things you are grateful for?

23 comments :

  1. I'm grateful for you, my wonderful friend!!!!

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    1. Morgan!!! I appreciate you so much and I'm glad that we've been able to talk during social distancing :))

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  2. Aw that was a wonderful post ��
    And happy birthday, dear!!

    Although I am now 25, it seems like my brain is stuck on feeling 19- ahaha.

    I’m grateful for my dogs. My two dachshunds who played a part into allowing me to still hold onto life. And a little bit of a heavier matter, i’m so grateful for my mother’s kidney donor. Today at work a nice lady asked me what the ribbon on my wrist meant (first time I get asked that one, they usually pick the one on my chest). and in the mix of working so many hours (10in a row, for the second day) and the rush I just had, I started crying .... she aplogized and asked questions, asking if she was fine and how many years it’s been ; which will make 5years in a few days and she’s as fine as ever! Upon quitting my drive thru, she asked me if I lived with her, and to give my mom a big hug when coming home

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wish and for sharing your experiences, Kristina. I'm glad that your dogs have been a positive presence for you. My family recently got a puppy, and although I am not personally one for pets, I can't help but smile when I think about how much my little sister loves spending time with the dog. I hope that you and your mother are safe and well during this time :)

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  3. I definitely need to be expressing more gratitude lately. I actually feel the same way you do about Wednesday’s. Wednesday’s are always when my favourite shows are on tv, so I have that to look forward to. But it’s also very motivating. I feel like: ok, I’ve gotten through half of the week. The rest will be ok!

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    1. Yes!! I love Wednesdays so much, and I'm glad your favorite shows are there as a marker for the week :)

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  4. Happy birthday! I’m also grateful for sweatshirts and blankets. That’s what I’ve been wearing in isolation.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Thanks Aj! And yes, sweatshirts and blankets are the best ahaha

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  5. "6. Wednesdays. The weekends get a lot of hype, but I appreciate Wednesdays because they mark that I've made it halfway through the week, and that deserves some recognition."
    This was the oddest, but also funniest of your points LOL.

    Happy belated birthday! It sounds like you've been lucky in so many respects, but I'm sure that your positive attitude helped a lot.

    I'm grateful for the internet because, thanks to it, I always feel less alone and like I belong (at least in the book blog community...). Especially in these dire times, I don't know where I'd be without it.

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    1. Thank you! I have definitely been fortunate in these circumstances to have the support of my family and friends. And yes for the internet! So much of my life is online right now that I truly don't know where I'd be without it.

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  6. tHAT IS A LOVELY POST. As a 29 year old, I have felt so much the one that you mentioned "that things do not turn out the way we wanted" because I have been thinking about it so much. Happy birthday sweetie! my mom birthday was yesterday so we still have cake at home. Habe a lovely day.

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    1. Thank you Nina! I hope you enjoyed the cake :)

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  7. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!! And as much as I absolutely loved and appreciated this list (and should really make one of my own for my birthday), the thing that spoke to me the most was RICE. What would we do without rice? I can't even begin to imagine it. Anyways, I am so happy that you had a wonderful birthday and I hope you had some delicious cake, as well.

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    1. Thank you Erin!! Yes rice is amazing!! At home I'm actually used to eating it most days of the week ahaha

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  8. Ahhh this is SUCH a lovely post, Claire! <3 Also, happy belated birthday!! (apologies for the lateness!!) I hope you had a great day despite our current circumstances!!!

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  9. This was a wonderful post, Claire! Reading it made me admire how you view life so much �� And belated happy birthday! I'm so glad that you had a great birthday despite having to practice social distancing ��

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    1. Thank you! :) I hope you also had a lovely day!

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  10. Happy belated birthday, Claire ��! Your mindset and positivity is so refreshing and admirable. It’s awesome that you’re cognizant of all the good things around you, big and small, amidst all the trouble in the world right now ��. I loved how you mentioned how glad you are that things don’t always turn out the way you want. That’s something I’m trying to work on, to trust in the timing of life ��. The story about the shoelaces made me laugh too ��. I hope your last year as a teen is fantastic ��. (Also, your new photo is super cute ��!)

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    1. Thanks Belle! I hope you have a wonderful April :)

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  11. Happy 19th! This list was such a great reminder to see the positives in the little things which can get difficult especially right now. :)

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  12. Happy (belated) Birthday! Your friends sound amazing - making a whole murder mystery for your birthday. And I love what your sister made for you. How sweet. Wednesdays are pretty great - it feels nice to be over halfway through the week. :)

    -lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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