This has been a year of big changes for me, most of them for the good. After three years of under and unemployment, I rejoined the workforce this September in a full-time job that, I’m happy to say, seems to be going quite well. While I miss the daily rural beauty of western Mass, I’m also deriving real (if surprising) pleasure from being back in a city. Plus friends and a weekly UMass Amherst teaching gig still draw me back on a regular basis.
My situation at this time last year was very different – as reflected in the title of last year’s holiday post: Thanksgiving in Plan B Nation (or how to be grateful when you don’t feel grateful). I had just started this blog – that post was its fifth – and was still having a hard time making sense of my life’s trajectory. I’m doing what? I’m living where? All that work, all those credentials, and I’ve ended up here?
This year, I have no trouble tapping into gratitude: Work, friends, writing, home – all of it, right at the moment, feels pretty good, a testament to how suddenly life can turn around.
But along with these obvious reasons, I’m grateful for something more: I’m grateful both for what I have now and for what I didn’t have then.
I’m grateful for how this time in the jobs wilderness forced me to expand my sense of who I am apart from my credentials.
I’m grateful for the ways it led me to become braver as a writer – to take risks that I likely wouldn’t otherwise have taken.
I’m grateful for having had a chance to move to the country and deepen my ties to a part of the world I love.
I’m grateful for the ways this stretch of life fostered greater compassion for millions of people struggling for reasons that are often largely (or entirely) beyond their control.
And most of all, I’m grateful for the fact that I can feel grateful – for the fact that I had the resources to navigate these challenges without being crushed by them. In that, I was very, very lucky. Many, of course, are not. As I look to the future in Plan B Nation, gratitude strikes me as an excellent foundation for thinking about how to change this.