Disclaimer: “Everything happens for a reason” is a popular, yet... somewhat irresponsible phrase. I've certainly said it myself and have no doubt that anyone who utters it means well, but there are some things in life that are simply terrible, for which the silver lining is difficult if not completely impossible to identify. I get that; I won’t tell you that everything happens for a reason.
But, as a true lover of serendipity, sliding doors moments, and the butterfly effect, I do love when the dots connect. When all the sudden you realize that you couldn’t be where you are today if this one thing hadn’t gone exactly as it did, even if it was totally shitty at the time. When after the fact you see that everything was related, and you had to pass through the storm to see the rainbow.
And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express gratitude for the shitty stuff in my life. The stuff that, at the time, I thought was the worst thing that could happen. Reflecting on these experiences – realizing that something so difficult or painful or imperfect lead me to something I would never want to give up – helps me relinquish control and push through times that are challenging to me now. I try to remember that it is all part of my story; the rocky terrain, the detours, the roadblocks, are all the makings of my life and are getting me to where I need to go.
Note that most of these points are begging me to tell their full-length version, but I am suppressing my incessant urge to skew off into tangents and keeping them pointed, because it’s Thanksgiving week and we’re all really f-in busy. And because I look forward to sharing their every last detail with you in the future :)
I am thankful that my anxiety launched me into terrifying panic attacks. It was only by reaching it’s peak that I was forced to get to the root of it. In doing so I not only eliminated the panic attacks, but also addressed the medium-level anxiety I’d been living with for years prior.
I am thankful that my skin became riddled with acne in my late twenties. The desperation caused by crappy skin lead me to examine my diet, skincare products, and overall lifestyle ultimately creating a much happier, healthier, and toxin-free me.
I am thankful for the guy that totally burned me. If not for his torturously misleading behavior, I would not have felt the need to escape on a solo road trip to California. I went just to clear my head, but the journey whet my appetite for adventure, helped me realize I am braver and stronger than I’d thought, and introduced me to some Belgian friends who went on – and continue – to play a major role in my story.
I am thankful that the office job I landed in NYC was such a terrible fit. Had it been more bearable I might have stuck with it; I could still be in that industry and lifestyle today, denying my true passion and missing out on all the amazing experiences that came after quitting.
I am thankful that my long-distance romance existed… and ended. It caused me much stress and heartache at the time, but ultimately it was exactly what I needed for the year that it lasted, and its tear-filled conclusion seemed to open the next door and push me right through it.
I am thankful that I was fired from my waitressing job. While restaurant management was unable to provide a real explanation, it was clear to me that space was being made for me to attend yoga teacher training in Barcelona.
I am thankful that my first tattoo experience was a bit of a nightmare. I absolutely love my first tattoo and it would not have come out the way it did or hold the added meaning that it does had it not gone so… strangely.
I am thankful that I was not offered the job I wanted upon my [second] return to NYC. Despite my excitement and several promising interviews, I didn’t really want to return to that world, and the job I ultimately found was the exact kind of job I was really hoping for – actually, even better.
I am thankful for the challenging relationships in my life. They test my values, strengthen my integrity, and force me to keep asking questions about myself and about the company I want to keep.
I am thankful that all my plans got ruined. I didn’t even know it, but I was capable of much more than what I had planned.
Sometimes on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one.
These blessings-in-disguise were all impossible to see at the time. The experiences totally sucked in the moment, some worse than others. But now, looking back, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. And not only that, I am extremely grateful for all of these hiccups, these redirections, these deviations from plan. I've learned that there is no sense in dwelling on things gone awry, because (1) we don't have control anyway, and (2) you never know what it might lead you to down the road. Focusing on the positive is simply more pleasant, easier, and a great way to invite more positive things into your life.
So maybe this Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for all the stuff that goes right, we can all take a moment to appreciate the things that go “wrong.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)