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    It Was All a Dream.

    With the holidays in full swing, what are you thankful for?

    I asked myself this question last week but I put off answering it. Every day I woke up, left Philly, took the train to New York, went to work, took the train back to Philly, and went home. For four days I did a God-awful commute to the new job that I prayed for. To the job that acknowledged just how hard I’m working professionally to make shit happen. But even with the two-hour commute, it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel real enough to be thankful for. It didn’t feel real enough to acknowledge.

    In August, I was miserable. At the end of my rope miserable. I found it hard to get up each day because I knew that I wouldn’t enjoy the spaces that I occupied. I became distant towards people I really care about. I was disengaged from the work that I spent close to 80k attain. I could go on until I’m blue in the face about how unhappy I was.

    So I decided to make a change. I thought about my dreams. Asked myself “Why not?” “Why not me?” “Why not happiness for me?” So I came up with a game plan. A plan that even in hindsight blows my mind that I made it work. I retreated. I went away to the woods, Tennessee to be specific. I hiked the Appalachian Trail. Spent time with a friend who sees me when I have little to offer. Spent a few days watching the Kavanaugh hearings with Lucy, the only dog I will ever let get in bed with me. I wallowed. And I applied to a job that seemed so unattainable that the risk of being rejected was the best type of practice for how to get to my next steps.

    So I applied. And got an interview. And another interview. And the final round. And the offer. And less than eight weeks later, signed a lease in some random Manhattan Starbucks, signaling some start to a new chapter that 17 year-old me could only dream of.

    That’s the abbreviated version, of course; but what matters is, I still couldn’t find the confidence to be thankful for my blessing and truly believe that it was mine. I felt a similar way in the spring- I met a person who didn’t seem real and I could never find the confidence to believe that I deserved someone so great. And now, months later, a different blessing but the same mental block.

    So this year, I’m thankful for the courage to step out on faith and I’m thankful for my blessings. But even more, I’m thankful that I’m able to see just how afraid I am of believing that what is for me is truly mine. Because by acknowledging that, I can make room for accepting my blessings and maximizing them even more.

    This year I’m thankful for dreams deferred becoming dreams manifested. I’m thankful for support systems who never doubted the plan (especially those who were forced to hear every detail of the plan for validation). I’m thankful for God.

    This holiday season, this close of quarter four, I hope that we all can continue taking these moments to not just express thanks for the good things, but to express thanks for the confusing things. Because no matter how stifled you may feel in your thoughts/feelings, nothing can stop your dream. And that always makes for an excellent Turkey Day post.

    Ashley Johnson
    Ashley Johnson

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