Look at the calendar. It’s thankful time. Time for all Facebook posts to turn positive, Instagrams #blessed.
It’s hard to feel grateful sometimes when it’s forced. You can’t be peer pressured into emotions. Thanksgiving isn’t always a thankful time for everyone. November sometimes rolls in breakups, depression or a renewed reminder of how far you are from friends or family. Sometimes the looming holiday season reminds you of how empty your bank account is. Sometimes going home brings you closer to the nightmare you’ve been trying to escape.
But you can’t post that. You’d look ungrateful, un-Christian, un-American. So you paste on a smile and say all the write things, post all the right pictures, use all the right hashtags. What would social media look like if we were less concerned with the number of “friends” and followers we had and more concerned with being transparent, vulnerable and real? What would happen if we allowed people to see the real us, not the person we hope to be or feel like we’re supposed to be, but the real us in the moment–stressed, overwhelmed, worn out, broken, sinners in desperate need of a savior? What would happen if we were allowed to vent without being called ungrateful, be honest about how we’re doing without being accused of looking for pity, ask for help without feeling needy?
This year, Thanksgiving came at the perfect time. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for where I’m at, what I have and how far I’ve come. But Thanksgiving last year, I forced myself to smile, went through all the motions of the family celebration while desperately wishing my life was completely different. I spent the whole night hoping no one would ask about the boyfriend I no longer had and lied my way through all the questions about the living situation I honestly no longer knew how I felt about. I left the house in an outfit I felt good about only to have my mom tell my skirt was too short. I pretended I didn’t care, ignored the comment and wore it anyway, the whole night wondering if everyone else felt the same way. I pretended to be okay and confident, pretended I didn’t want to leave as soon as the food was gone, pretended I didn’t desperately want something “adult” to drink to get me through the night. Of course, I told no one.
This year, I’m thankful that I’m genuinely happy to be home and genuinely excited to spend the next few days with my family, even excited to get away to a mountain cabin with just them and no internet for two days. I am thankful that I feel confident and happy for the first time in way too long. I am thankful that I gave up something I loved and I’m still okay. I am thankful that there are friends in my life that I would basically do anything for because there was a long time where I doubted I would ever let myself feel that way about anyone again. I am thankful that there is enough money in my bank account to cover Christmas shopping for my family and friends. I am thankful that I feel like I’m part of a community again for the first time in a long time. I am thankful that as much as I’m enjoying my break, I am looking forward to getting back to everything back at school too. I am thankful that after everything I’ve been through, I can still smile, still love, still hope. I am thankful that no matter what kind of season I’m in, this is not the end of the story.
So whether you’re overwhelmed with thankfulness this year or finding yourself faking your way through like I did last year, remember this is not the end of your story. Remember things will get better. And remember there is always something to be thankful for even in the midst of the storm.
Happy Thanksgiving, loves