Three Thanks

It’s customary at this time of year for Canadians to express their feelings of gratitude for the people and things in their life they feel thankful for. About a year ago, I wrote a post to this effect, and I thought it would be appropriate to do something similar once again (though I’m a couple of days late on it).

I suppose the first thing that I will freely admit to being thankful for are the folks at Career Options, who have so graciously allowed me to write pretty much whatever I want here over the past several months. They even found it in their hearts to publish me in their magazine, which was a first for me, and something I’ll be holding onto for a long time. Specifically, Andrea Migchelson has been an absolute pleasure to correspond with on a weekly basis. Andrea, are you that cheerful in real life, too?

Writing here has allowed me to use and develop one of my strengths, which I am also very thankful for. Strengths are, of course, one of the things that I frequently discuss with students who are confused about their career direction. A lot of people don’t realize that it’s just as important, if not more so, to look inside to gain a better understanding of ourselves as it is to look outward at the world of work when contemplating career direction. Having a solid understanding of your strengths is the only way to know when and where you can use them to good effect. It’s also important to understand that your strengths aren’t necessarily the things you’re already an expert at. Often times, strengths are qualities that we really want to develop, areas in which we desire to grow.

If someone had told me during my undergraduate schooling that writing was one of my strengths, I probably would have laughed it off. I might have added that knowing how to write an “A” paper in an English class is more demonstrative of knowing how to work the system—giving professors what they want to see—than any serious talent for writing. Even in the last couple of years, as my thesis advisor kept telling me that she really enjoyed my writing style, I remained reluctant to admit that I was really any good. It’s probably only in the last year that I’ve been able to start appreciating and nurturing this quality, with the primary reason being the blogs that I write every week. I know that in the grand scheme of things, my writing abilities are “nothing to write home about,” but I still consider writing to be one of my strengths because I actually enjoy the time that I devote to it.

You know what else I’m thankful for? Coffee. Seriously, was there ever a better idea? Someone, at some point, decided to take a whole bunch of weird looking fruits off a tree, roast them to a dark brown, grind them up, and run hot water through them. Genius. The thing is, that person had no idea that their efforts would go on to become the most widely consumed antioxidant in the United States. It was probably complete happenstance, maybe even an accident, that the beverage we call coffee was discovered. What a great example of a tiny action creating an absolute shock wave through time, forever changing the way that people function in the morning! As my readers should know well by now, one of the central tenets of chaos theory is that causes and effects are often disproportionate to each other. A seemingly inconsequential detail of life, like missing a bus in the morning (or not having your morning coffee), could have a profound impact on events in your life at a later time. Similarly, some events we think will have a huge impact on our lives end up not really changing much of anything.

The last thing that I want to express thanks for here are the supporters in my life. We are all supporting, and supported by, others who care. Moms and dads, siblings, significant others, friends, coworkers, professors, you name it. I know that all of the above have helped me along tremendously and I think it’s important to stop and acknowledge that from time to time. People are not generally in the habit of spending time simply acknowledging the things in their lives. When we do start thinking about putting our strengths to use, we use business metaphors and say things like “I have to sell myself” as if we were products capable of being bought and sold. We’re not. But we can acknowledge ourselves, what we have, what we bring with us, what our story is. It’s only fair.

Good luck with the turkey hangovers this week!

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