I’m thankful that no one is relying on me. I’m thankful I’m not responsible for someone else’s survival other than my own. I’m thankful I’m not forced to live in less than ideal locations or conditions, work at a job that underpays and takes advantage of me or stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship because I feel like I have no choice.
I’m thankful that when I go home for Thanksgiving this year it will be to a home that has not been foreclosed on, to parents who are relatively healthy and allow me to bring a friend home to enjoy a meal prepared with love and care. I’m thankful they have never pressured me to (try and) return to a 9-5 job that caused only misery and stress. For understanding as much as they can that I do not measure my life in salary, titles or home ownership. I’m thankful for their continued support in my pursuit of happiness, no matter how unscripted or unconventional that path is.
I’m thankful for my brother, who I know is always there for me, even though we are many miles apart. I’m thankful he has faith in himself, that he makes things happen in his life and is an independent, successful person. I’m thankful that he is someone I admire and look up to, even though he’s five years my junior.
I’m thankful for my roommate/friend/employer, who gives me room and board in exchange for watching her incredible 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Someone who offers whatever she can, whenever she can. Someone who has welcomed me into her home as though I were family and given me more in peace of mind and friendship than she would ever take credit for.
I’m thankful for my friends who have provided endless selfless gestures and have never made me feel ashamed to say “I’m broke.” Who have, instead, shown me that company is far more important than what we’re eating or drinking, where we hang out or how much money we spend. I’m thankful for their free-thinking ways, their creative, inspiring endeavors, their compassion, proof that good people do exist.
I’m thankful that I have people in my life who have no real reason to care about me, but do and show it on an almost daily basis with their kindness, generosity and sympathy.
I’m thankful for my inexplicable luck at every turn. I have not had to work hard. I have not suffered. I have never been without. I have not experienced the hardship and tragedy that I read about daily, that I witness walking around the streets of Chicago, that I hear about, always secondhand, but still close enough to stir something inside of me. I don’t feel I’m worthy or deserving of many of the things that have been given to me, but I’m neither ignorant of nor ungrateful for what fate has thrown my way.
I’m thankful that I can sit here and write this piece, that I know where my next meal is coming from, that I have a roof over my head, that the ones I hold nearest and dearest are safe and doing OK, that I still believe there will be opportunities and hold on to hope even on my darkest days.
Carly Oishi is co-founder of the blog and reading series Solo in the 2nd City.