Second only to Independence Day, I have to confess Thanksgiving is my other favorite holiday of the year
It’s not about the food (though that’s definitely a perk for someone on the “impoverished law student” diet). Thanksgiving is a useful holiday for benchmarking how much things have changed over the years and reminds me how truly fortunate I’ve been.
Today I enjoyed a delicious meal with a half-dozen or so classmates who stayed in town to study for finals, prepping for the end of my first semester in professional school.
1 year ago I was in Virginia Beach visiting my grandparents, still a semester away from finishing my undergraduate degree, but enjoying the insane schedule that came with being a first-term President of the UNC Association of Student Governments and a second-term Student Senate President at N.C. State — highlighted by the Raleigh-to-Elizabeth City-to-Virginia Beach-to-Greenville-to-Raleigh itinerary for the break
5 years ago I had an equally insane schedule but it wasn’t quite as fun. I was a college dropout working 2 jobs, enjoying a small-but-delicious Thanksgiving meal at the country club apartment I shared with QuietStorm, thankful for having a full-time job after the 2004 election season ended but also relishing the day off before I headed back on Friday to work overtime on some pleadings. It was at that point I decided BigLaw was probably not my cup of tea
And 10 years ago I didn’t have much of a Thanksgiving meal at all, with QuietStorm and I sharing some EasyMac and leftover Pokey Stix from Gumby’s while we surreptitiously stayed in my dorm room (despite the residence halls being closed) because I didn’t have the money to travel and she took pity on me wanting to make sure I enjoyed my Thanksgiving (it worked ).
Some people ask why my ego is so outrageously oversized. In all candidness I’ve even wondered myself every now and then (ok really just once). Yet when I go back through the old photos and old emails from holidays past, when I reflect on going from a high school scholar to a college dropout, from being homeless to living in a ridiculously swank apartment, from having to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet to studying law full-time while being a student advocate on the side — it’s hard to be humble.
But it’s harder not to be humbled.
For all the experiences, I owe most of it to circumstances and people beyond my control. So with Thanksgiving 2009 winding to a close, here’s a brief (non-exhaustive) list of some of the things I’m thankful for this year:
- My degree — After I dropped out back in 2000, I thought I’d never graduate from college. By the time I made it to my senior year in Computer Science, I really thought I’d never graduate from college But for whatever reason my teachers took pity on me, and the Bachelors of Science degree they gave me this past June is proudly framed and hanging on my wall.
- The NCCU School of Law — Out of my 3 options for law school, NCCU was really the only one I could afford. It turned out to be an excellent fit, plus I met some pretty awesome people in the process
- Madame Prosecutor — Speaking of those classmates, no one has challenged me quite like this lady. She drives me absolutely bonkers at times but I’ve got no doubt my grades and overall 1L experience have been better because of her.
- My SG colleagues — This is such a diverse group of people I can’t really single anyone out, but working with these folks has been the highlight of my life for the past 4 years. I appreciate and respect all of you, and look forward to the great things you’ll be doing in the years ahead!
- Q.T. — One of those aforementioned colleagues, she’s not only helped me get things done in UNCASG but has been a great friend as well. She even helped me study for the CivPro midterm
- 雅雅 — Dealing with me on a daily basis is bad enough in a normal year; it’s even worse when I’m active in 2 separate Student Government groups, interning downtown at the N.C. General Assembly, and trying to graduate in Computer Science. 雅雅 supported me the whole time even when more rational people would have bailed, and some of the best times in my life have been spent with her
- Nan and Pops — I love my family, but my grandparents deserve more recognition than I could ever give them here. They helped raise me, helped me get back on my feet as a dropout, helped me stay in school when I made it back, the list goes on. When I was at N.C. State the 2nd time through I was terrified one of them would pass away before I got my degree, and more so than anyone else on this earth they’re responsible for me graduating and making it to law school.
- God — I’m not a particularly religious guy, and I’m generally averse to publicly displaying my faith (not sure why, I’ve just been that way my whole life). Even so, I’ve had so many great experiences and been surrounded by so many amazing people that I can’t ascribe it to mere coincidence. I just hope I can live my life in a way that reflects my appreciation for all the blessings I’ve been given.
I’ll end the list there, since this entry is already pretty long
I hope all of you had an amazing Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones! And remember: it gets even better from here