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Show some appreciation everyday

Posted: May 2, 2013 12:44 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2013 5:00 a.m.

As the Chronicle-Independent’s education reporter, April usually brings lots of “graduations” and ceremonies celebrating students’ achievements from throughout their high school career. Last year, I determined, and confirmed this year, that if I ever have a child I will be one of those moms who cries at all of my kids events. 

I don’t consider myself a crier -- with the exception of movies, however -- but there’s just something about seeing someone, whether it be child or a teacher or whoever, honored and recognized for their contributions. I definitely found myself getting teary eyed at the Upchurch & Jowers banquet where students take the time to thank their parents and teachers for all of the encouragement and love they received throughout the years. I’m sure most parents have been brought to tears at least once after having the pleasure of seeing their child do well, whether it was publicly acknowledged or not. 

The thing is, in general, I don’t think we celebrate people enough. In the last couple of weeks, while I’ve been quietly celebrating the joys of these high school kids I’ll probably never see again, several of my friends have mentioned to me that they’ve been feeling underappreciated in many areas of their lives. Honestly, it’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around, as most of the people I’ve had this conversation with are naturally giving, “stand-up” kind of people. It especially surprised me, though, when one of my favorite and most considerate friends who always shows up with strapped with some sort of gift, whether it be material or a kind word or compliment, said to me earlier this week that he had been struggling with doubt and some insecurity about being “enough” or doing enough. When I asked why he felt this way, he skirted around the issue of being taken advantage of simply because people come to expect things instead of seeing them as a gift or a courtesy, for lack of better words.

There can be a fine line between people who give and do well for attention and recognition or because “they are supposed to” and people who do those same things simply because that’s just who they are. I think a lot of people feel underappreciated in life at some point or another, however. “What’s the point?” is a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately. I’m sure feeling unappreciated can be a tough emotional state to process for anyone; but I think it is especially difficult from the teenage years up until your 30s, because you are just beginning the process of or learning to stand confidently on your own two feet. Life is short; and even though I’m absolutely convinced that I’ll live to at least 100-years-old, in December I’ll have already lived a quarter of it. I think about my grandparents who are having trouble doing the day-to-day things we take for granted until we can’t do them anymore. I also think of two reporter friends I’ve come to know, as well as all the other people I know in their 40s to 60s, who have had their parents surrender to death recently or are in the process of dying and think if we just had a little more time… but we don’t. Frankly, that’s why I think people cling to religion and faith structures to explain death because death is so deliciously mystical; people want to believe that they’ll have another lifetime somewhere else to be with loved ones. We may, we may not. I think it’s unethical to think about showing appreciation and encouraging others without broaching the death conversation as a line from one of my favorite artists, rapper Kanye West, always comes to mind: “People never get flowers while they can smell them.”

I’m surely guilty. All the celebration and lack of appreciation talk has served as a reminder to me to show more appreciation to others simply for having the courage to show up and be on a daily basis instead of waiting for a special occasion that might never come.

 

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