We are thrilled to introduce Levo’s Giving Gratitude series! From November 28th till Thanksgiving, Gen Y women and men will be sharing stories of things they’re grateful for this year. Evann Clingan is one such storyteller who looks back on the lessons she has learned since her graduation. Join us in our celebration of gratitude during this holiday season!

I can still remember the special moments when my family and I gathered around our dining room table before Thanksgiving dinners. After a day of working on 1,000-piece puzzles and watching football matches, we would all pause to answer an age-old question: What are you most grateful for this year? As a child, my list ranged from simple items such as my parents or American Girl dolls to more abstract concepts like ‘support’ or ‘opportunity’. Now that I’m older, it’s interesting how these two themes keep coming up in conversations about thankfulness; support and opportunity remain close to heart.

As a newly minted graduate, it was hard learning to navigate adulthood. I frequently questioned where my home would be, how I could make money and who would become my partner in life’s journey. Yet with strength of conviction I made the difficult decisions before me needing only the reassurance that comes from family. Just one week after graduating college, I moved to New York City and enrolled in an internship program without any guarantee for future job prospects – but what has been gained is far more invaluable: bolstered by parental support at every turn over this past year-and-a-half which taught me the true value of having someone on your side throughout even turbulent times. The move to Manhattan was a difficult one—challenging both emotionally and financially. Nevertheless, my parents never once questioned my decision; they knew I could make it through this transition. They have been like the greatest of cheerleaders for me: when things are tough at work, money is scarce or bad weather has left me without power–they’ve always had in encouraging words for me.

Reflecting back on Hurricane Sandy, I spent a grueling five days with no electricity, cable, Wi-Fi, or hot water in the downtown area of Manhattan. Despite my fears for family and friends’ safety as well as my own apartment’s condition, it was an experience that confirmed how strong and supportive my network is here in New York City. After I lost power, many friends reached out to me immediately offering their help and support in understanding how to be more grateful. 

My employer was even incredibly accommodating when it came to needing to alter my routine for the time being, teaching me valuable lessons on how to be a more grateful person. 

As I transition to the comforts of a home with utilities, I am able to refocus on my work and involvement in other organizations. This has shown me how many opportunities are available for me. To think that this chain reaction began from an amazing college experience is truly amazing! In particular, engaging in liberal arts at university as an honors fellow was incredibly beneficial; indeed, it even led to finding a fellowship which eventually became a full-time job! I owe a debt of gratitude to organizations like Levo League and The White House Project, which have kickstarted my career and taught me valuable lessons on how to be a more grateful person. 

To pay it forward, I now volunteer for She’s the First; an organization that provides girls in developing countries with the chance to be thankful for their education by amplifying access to opportunities that could potentially transform their lives.

My post-grad life has been an extraordinary display of thankfulness, and I have become more grateful than ever. We should not limit our expressions of gratitude to just the Thanksgiving celebration – we must make it something that is part of our daily routine. For me, support and opportunities fill up my daily schedule; so take a minute to recognize those who help you or what brings blessings into your life each day!

What or who would you like to give thanks for today? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!

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