2020 Is a Disaster. Here’s Why I’m Thankful For All of It

Luke Bender via Unsplash

This year I’m thankful for the pandemic. I’m thankful for the political climate, for the stress, for the economic uncertainty, and for having limited time with loved ones—truly, I am. Hear me out.

I’m thankful for the pause, the upheaval, and the wake up call. I’m grateful for the at times unbearable lonely nights. I’m grateful for being reminded of what it’s like to not know where rent is coming from. I’m grateful for the mess. I’m grateful for the ability to find joy in the middle of all of it anyways.

I’m grateful to live through these historical moments, and to witness firsthand the resiliency and adaptability of the human spirit. I’m thankful to see that happiness isn’t out there, in things going exactly to plan, but instead it’s in fleeting moments that bubble up from inside you, regardless of what happens.

I’m thankful we’ve all been reminded how fleeting life can be, and the importance of saying “I love you,” when you get the chance, in whatever way you can.

I’m thankful for my health, for living through this time and knowing, no, it probably won’t be me who ends up in the ICU. I’m grateful I was born with a heart defect, however, so I didn’t get too cocky and throw all caution to the wind. I’m thankful to be faced with death so I can better plan my bucket list, and hop to it.

I’m thankful for getting closer to my family than I’ve perhaps ever been, and for our daily group texts of memes and photos of my nieces and nephews. I’m grateful I realized their imperfections don’t matter, and our dynamics don’t need to be perfectly healthy to be valuable, and full of love. Real love. Imperfect love.

I’m thankful I lost my job. I’m thankful I no longer have an obligation to a place that didn’t align with my values. I’m thankful for the lovely people I met there, for everything I learned, and for all the incredible food, wine, and sunsets I experienced. I’m thankful I’ve been pushed to freelance, and forced to make it work.

I’m grateful for the stress of not knowing when the next paycheck is coming, the aching desire for the new clothes, laser hair removal sessions, and spa visits that I’d become accustomed to, and having to go without, and look inwards at what I was really looking for—validation, perfection, worthiness. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reevaluate, and to be both more diligent and appreciative both now and in the future.

I’m grateful for the sleepless nights, for not realizing how good we had it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to put my spirituality into practice during heavy times, and realizing that meditation, good health, faith, and love are invaluable.

I’m thankful I learned how to be alone early in life, to entertain myself, and to escape into different worlds through books, art, writing, creating, cooking, dancing, movement, and imagination. This skill made it so that quarantine has felt oftentimes like a playground instead of a prison.

I’m grateful I gave up meditation for a few months this year, as an experiment, so that I could come back to it and realize just how grounding it is. And I’m grateful my mom slipped me a few Xanax on my last visit to have for emergencies when the meditation doesn’t quite cut it.

I’m thankful for my virtual therapist, Barb. Barb who explained certain relationships by saying, “it’s kind of like…fuck me? No, fuck you, right?” Barb who said “you know, alcohol is an underrated coping mechanism.” Barb who helped me identify and heal post-traumatic stress disorder. Barb who was never too shy to say, “what an asshole!”

I’m thankful I briefly went back to a man I shouldn’t have. I’m grateful he lived so far away, and that the trip went horribly, and my heart got shattered. I’m grateful my best friend drove the 7 and a half hours from Chicago just to spend one night with me, to be there with me, to hold my raw heart in her hands and say, “I’ve got you. I love you. I’m here.”

I’m so grateful this man showed his true colors because it allowed me to finally let him go, this time for good, a year and a half later. I’m so grateful we didn’t end up together, and for being able to see it more clearly now.

I’m grateful for Netflix, too. For Sex and the City reruns, for offering a taste of the “before” and the comforting reminder that being single in your thirties isn’t a crime.

I’m thankful I am single, even though it’s the last thing I wanted to be when the pandemic hit, and it’s been, perhaps, harder than ever. With this challenge has come a deeper acceptance, and with that acceptance comes peace.

I’m grateful for my Hitachi Magic Wand and my vivid imagination and lack of guilt surrounding my bodily pleasures. I am really grateful for that.

I’m grateful for the adventures, too. For roller skating the length of a few small cities, for jumping into freezing lakes, and for trail running past ten waterfalls.

I’m grateful I took a road trip down the west coast this January. I’m grateful I got to have so many adventures before this.

I’m thankful for moving my body, for running, yoga, and dancing in my house.

I’m thankful I’ve been out dancing more times than I could ever count, before it was against the rules. I’m thankful I took dance lessons back then, too.

I’m grateful for the little things.

I’m grateful for bouquets and candles, my fluffy cats, for phone calls from friends and face times with my niece. I’m grateful for the gemstone sticker book I bought at the supermarket, so I can beddazle everything within my reach. I’m grateful for the rainbows that shoot across my living room when the sun hits just right.

I’m grateful for fresh air, long walks, and gardening. I’m grateful for the flowers that continued to bloom, unbothered and unapologetic in their beauty. I’m thankful to be alive for it all.

I’m thankful for these strange times, for knowing that things are shifting, and that the darkness we’ve endured is like the damp, dark soil of late winter. You can almost smell it, but you can’t see any signs of life yet.

I’m thankful there is new life beneath the surface, ready to sprout up, as if from hell itself, ready to spring to life and bloom in a thousand different colors.

I’m thankful for all of it. Flowers need rain and darkness, death, and the depth of winter, as much as they need sunshine. So do we.

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