Change Your Language From, “I Have To…” to “I Get To…”

Let me just start by saying how much I love my job. If you don’t know what I do, I work for a non-profit organization that helps high school students with the college application and financial aid process. I get to work with some wonderful students, and even though a lot of what I do is counseling and helping them, I’m happy to say that I get to learn from my students as well.

Story Time

I was talking with one of my students about potential topics for his college essay, and he mentioned that he wanted his essay to focus on gratitude. When I asked him to tell me more, he explained that when he came to America a few years ago with his family, he had no idea what to expect, but he knew it would be difficult. He had to learn a new language, adjust to American culture, and begin high school, all while caring for his siblings after school while his parents worked. He said, “Usually, you hear people complain about all of the things they have to do, but I’m just grateful for what I get to do.”

Y’all, my jaw was on the floor because I never expected to hear this from a 17-year-old. This student had so much stuff on his plate, but he was just grateful that he even had a plate in the first place to hold it all! I felt so foolish, honestly. That same morning, I was complaining about sitting in traffic, when I should’ve been grateful that I have a car in the first place. Gratitude never crossed my mind. The week before, I was complaining about the increase in prices at grocery stores, when I should’ve been grateful that I can afford groceries even after the price increase. It’s absolutely incredible what a conversation with a high school senior can do, and I’m so grateful that he shared his perspective with me.

Final Thoughts

For the record, I want to acknowledge that I understand how unrealistic it is to go through life without complaining. We all go through inconveniences that are frustrating, annoying, and upsetting, and it’s human nature to complain. However, I’m merely suggesting that we pair our complaints with gratitude or at least be aware of our privilege.

We can sit in our cars with AC in the dead of summer or with our heat in the middle of winter and complain about traffic, but let’s not forget that we have a car while someone else’s only option is to catch the bus to work in these weathers. Similarly, instead of waking up and complaining that we have to go to work, let’s remember that other people may not have a job right now and would KILL to have the job you have. Switch your thinking from, “Ugh, I have to…” to, “Wow, I get to….”. This, my LFT fam, is the first step towards gratitude.

“The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.” – Walt Disney

Leave a Reply