Happy All Saints Day, loved ones.
The month before my 30th birthday, I decided to do 30 days of gratitude to remind myself of all the blessings in my life. All six of my readers seemed to enjoy my little thankful project and it was a good exercise in staying present, so I am going to do it again in the month of the greatest holiday, Thanksgiving.
This time, though, I am going to only post one thing I am thankful for each day and I am hoping to find it buried in the stress and crappy emotions. I want to understand that my life, in all situations, is truly a blessing.
So, my dear ones, let’s begin.
I am thankful for new friends.
A week ago, I woke up in panic. The winding down of the year is often a parade of events only meant to be celebrated with others. Who would I be with? Where would I go? What if I didn’t have an answer to these questions and I could prevent the ensuing gulf of loneliness?
It was a silly thing to think when one of my dearest friends was right beside me and we had a whole day of exploring planned, but I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that she would leave and it would just be me again.
Until, I realized it wouldn’t.
I moved to Chicago knowing just two people, one a PCV from Niger and the other an acquaintance from South Dakota. I consider both now good friends and additionally I’ve worked really hard to meet new people and build a solid social life. I attended Meet Ups, went to events where I didn’t know anyone, asked friends to hook me up with people they know in Chicago and said yes to every invitation. Making friends at 30 in a new city is really not that easy; most people already have solid social circles to let someone new in takes courage and vulnerability.
But I’ve done it and I have a social calendar that keeps me fairly busy. Sure, long and deep connections take time, but I may be on the way to that. I’ve come to understand that loneliness is often a choice – I don’t have to be. I pack my calendar with things because I know it takes effort and time, but sometimes I need to stop, if only for a moment.
This morning I was frazzled. I had not been home one night this week because of social engagements and I had plans for lunch this afternoon and a party this evening, plus another dinner tomorrow with friends. All I wanted was to have a cup of coffee and read.
I often forget to stop and see that my stress and annoyance is actually a truly amazing thing. I should be so fortunate to have friends and people who want to spend time with me. This was my whole goal in moving here and I’ve done well.
Yet, I don’t have to say yes all the time. I can still have some extra time for me and still feel like I have companions. So, for just 30 minutes, I drank my coffee and read before running off to lunch. I had a nice meal with a friend, but I also got a bit of time to take care of myself.
I am blessed.