Welcome to Levo’s holiday series, Giving Gratitude! Through Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 28, Gen Y women and men share with you what they are most thankful for this year. In this round, Evann Clingan reflects on recent lessons she’s learned in her post-graduate life.
I clearly recall sitting around my family’s dining room table before childhood Thanksgiving dinners. After a long day of solving 1,000-piece puzzles and watching football, my family gathered to answer an important question before eating: What are you most thankful for this year? As a child, I named everything from my parents to my American Girl dolls. While each item on my list of thanks was significant at that time, I have more recently refined the list. My thanks seems to revolve around two themes this year: support and opportunity.
Being a recent graduate is difficult. Twenty-somethings constantly wonder where they will live, how they will earn money, and who they will date. I am no different. The past year-and-a-half has been filled with tough choices. While I was confident in my choices, I knew they would challenge me. I would need support. One week after graduating, I moved to New York City and started a fellowship program that, at the time, had no promise of ending in a full-time job. I have since learned the value of my parents’ support. Moving to Manhattan can be very taxing—emotionally and financially. My parents never questioned my decision because they knew I could succeed. I consider them my ultimate cheerleaders. Whether it has been a tough day at the office, stress about how to manage money, or a storm that leaves me without utilities, my parents have been there.
Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, I spent five days without power, cable, Internet or hot water in Lower Manhattan last year. While I was thankful for the safety of friends, family and my apartment, it was a tough experience. It was also a week that proved the strength of my support network in New York. From the moment I lost power, I received calls and texts from many friends who wanted to know how they could help keep me safe and comfortable. Even my employer bent over backwards to accommodate changes to my routine. Now, I have renewed thanks for lamp-light and hot showers. Most importantly, I have watched this resilient city pull together to rebuild what has been devastated. That’s selfless support.
As I transition back into a life with utilities at home, I have been able to renew my focus on work and involvement in other organizations. I have been reminded how much opportunity fills my life. I attribute the chain reaction of opportunities to a great education. I attended an engaging liberal arts university, where I completed an undergraduate thesis as an honors fellow. That research helped me land a fellowship that did become a full-time job. My career has been jump-started by organizations like Levo League and The White House Project. To pass on the gift of education that has afforded me these opportunities, I now volunteer for She’s the First. I believe girls in developing countries deserve the chance to be thankful for their education. They deserve opportunities that will change their life.
Yes, this declaration of thanks is a mini snapshot of my post-grad life. I believe that’s because I have learned to be more thankful than ever on a daily basis. Giving thanks should certainly not be limited to the tradition of sharing around a Thanksgiving table. For me, support and opportunities overwhelm my every day. Take the time to recognize who or what deserves your thanks each day.
Who or what deserves your thanks each day? Tell us in the comments section!