“What are you thankful for?” That’s what my brother asked me this past New Year’s Eve while atop Parliament Hill in London awaiting the fireworks.
Twenty-six days later and my mom texted me and asked when I was going to be home and if I had plans that night – I didn’t. She then asked me to call her when I got home. I had been starving, so I started to prepare to make green curry for dinner and called my mom. When she answered, she told me I needed to sit down and I refuted that I was making dinner and she and my father sternly told me I have to sit down. I was thinking to myself, “What is so important that I need to sit down?” I then gave in. My mom then said with a shaky voice, “Parker died. The embassy called us today and said he was in the forest putting out camera traps and just stopped breathing.” I was in shock and thoughts began to cloud my head. He only had left for Panama 2 days ago, interning for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is only 22. We were in Europe together just 9 days ago. I wasn’t processing the words as my parents were sobbing on the other end.
Twenty-six days later and I began thinking about all the time we spent together in Europe spanning over 21 days. Twenty-six days later, and I began to think more about what I value, what I am thankful for. Are millennials too focused on their own future to focus on their families? I find myself, as a millennial, not focusing enough on mental health and focusing more narrow-mindedly on how I can achieve my goals, without thinking about what is best for my mental health. It is difficult to separate and prioritize the things that we value against the things that society tells us to do. I think that millennials care more about what society thinks. People need to focus more on the ones that they love than gaining the approval of others. Millennials have to work harder than previous generations – rarely do people obtain jobs that become life-long careers, and the surge in college tuition is hard for millennials as well. So, it’s easy to lose grip on the bonds in your family while going along with society’s expectations. As a student living hundreds of miles away from my family, I began to think about how I don’t spend enough time with my family. Do we spend enough time focusing on the importance of our family members?
Family members are so important. Your family is the only family by blood you will ever have. You never know what may happen to one of your loved ones. No one plans to die, no one plans to become terminally ill, some circumstances are unplannable and you never know when you’re going to lose someone close to you. There are insane incidents happening all the time and you never know when a crazy incident will happen that will affect you and your family- the Las Vegas massacre, Pulse night club – these events have all been unexpected and destroy families. You never know if something like this unexpected tragedy will affect your family.
My piece of advice to everyone is to hold your family close. I understand that some people didn’t have the best upbringing, and have abusive or toxic relationships with their family members. However, I do urge everyone try to look beyond those circumstances and to cherish the time that they do have with family members. Don’t take your family members for granted. You lose a lot in life – don’t let the little things get in between the strong bonds that you have with your family members. Family is so important.