Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving: A Time to Reflect

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This time last year I was celebrating my fourteenth birthday (didn't land on Thanksgiving this year) and scanning my Facebook profile for notifications. Today, I am relaxing, having a Hey Arnold! marathon and working on creating a business plan. I can say I've changed a lot.

The past few Thanksgivings have been fairly busy for me, but this year, I really have a time to reflect on what I'm really thankful for. 

1. I'm thankful for my family

This one is probably a no-brainer. Anyone in their right mind would write that, right? A lot of people are thankful for their families without even knowing what to be thankful for specifically. I'm almost always complaining about sharing a room with my sister, sharing a bathroom with two sisters, and my clothes getting stolen. I think it's safe to say that 95% of the time I don't enjoy the company of the people that happen to live in my house. However, when I think about what my situation could be, I'm glad I have these folks for a family. My parents have been married for nearly twice my lifetime, none of which are deceased. Their love is still vibrant and well, kind of adorable. I look at their wedding photos just about every day (fun fact-- my mom made her own wedding dress, AND all like, eight of her bridesmaids dresses, AND the flower girl's dress. In case anyone wanted to know where I got my sewing skills from...). I have a good relationship with both of my parents-- my dad and I bond over music while my mother and I bond over dainty things. I also have good relationships with my sisters. Yeah, the steal my clothes and my food and my beauty products, but at the end of the day, I never had to change any of their diapers.

2. I'm thankful for my health

Very few people know how unhealthy I was as a baby. My mother was very ill during the pregnancy and I wasn't expected to make it. But, here I am! I was born with RSV (don't ask me what that stands for) and liver issues, and stayed in the hospital for most of the first year of my life, but now I am completely healthy. I don't even remember the last time I stayed overnight in a hospital, so... I would consider that a blessing!

3. I am thankful for animation

Last year, I would have never said this. But, really, without cartoons and Disney movies, I wouldn't know anything about what I want to do with my life. And you have no idea how much I can't stand not knowing what I want to do with my life. So, I'm thankful that people like Butch Hartman (creator of Danny Phantom), Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Koneitzo (creators of Avatar), and Glen Murakami (creator of animated Teen Titans) exist. I am also thankful for the voice-over artists that inspire me every day. I am thankful for the channels willing to pick up my favorite cartoons, from Nickelodeon to Cartoon Network. I am thankful for production companies like Disney and DreamWorks. Even more, I am thankful for the ways they've shaped me as a person, from The Lion King to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Animation has brought so much joy to my life; I don't know what I'd do without it. I'm thankful for every single person who has had anything to do with any animated project, because they've helped make me who I am.

4. I am thankful for friends

Not many people know this about me, but there was a time in my life--most of my life, really--I was really anxious, lonely, and depressed. Whenever I was in public, I would try to avoid people as much as possible. I could not handle social situations I hadn't been in before... it was debilitating. I didn't want to talk to anyone, but I was tired of being alone. I always had this feeling that everyone hated me, and honestly, sometimes I still feel that way (but much less often, and I know it isn't true). I only had... maybe two or three friends (not including the ones that moved away) up until fourth grade. In fourth grade, one Wednesday, I showed up to a Wednesday night service and only one other girl showed up in my class. I knew her well enough-- she had just moved back from Georgia and I had lived in Ohio for maybe three years now. But we weren't really friends, up until tonight when she'd been super hyper and didn't really leave me with the choice to be alone. I joined in on the fun. I highly doubt she remembers that January night, but I remember clearly. That was the night I realized I didn't have to be alone. I didn't have to spend my days on my bed, reading novels. There were people I could lean on. Now, she and I aren't close anymore, but I am thankful for the friendship that was.

5. I am thankful for different races

This might be weird, but I am so proud to be black, you don't even know. I am so glad we have different colors, different languages, and different cultures. I can speak Chinese, which I love because it's the only advanced class I'm in. I love watching anime (especially Free!)-- can you imagine life without anime? I didn't think so.

6. I am thankful for religious freedom

I'm so grateful that I don't have to risk my life for my faith (not saying I wouldn't, but...) and can live in peace. Really, I'm glad that I have the freedom to believe what I want, even if it isn't always the popular opinion. I don't have to hide being a Christian, being pro-life, being (slightly) Afro-centric, or being a feminist. I am what I am and people just learn to accept it.

No matter what you have or don't have, there's always something to be thankful for (even if it's something you'd rather not have... like having to go to school even though that gives me an education). So, this holiday season, take time to reflect.

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