It’s 7:26 PM, a Saturday dusk in Melbourne city. To begin a post about being thankful, it feels right to show thanks firstly, to daylight saving. In its name, I’m able to wander the Yarra river and in turn, to wander my thoughts this eve. When I ponder what it is I’m thinking; what I’ve learnt and where I’m at, one particular lesson comes to mind as of late.
This will be the third and final post in the series that I’ve titled “The Laundromat Series”. And I’ve chosen to reflect on gratitude, not because I’ve experienced its abundance in recent life and discovered its worth thereafter. But for quite the opposite reason. I’ve witnessed its lacking and the gap that has been left behind without it.
This is not just about me. It’s not about a series of honourable actions that have stemmed from my name. The sunlight they haven’t received in return. It’s far more about the way we bump shoulders in the streets. About the days that go by and the many times we fail to turn to say sorry. It’s about the way we ask for help. About how we forget who offered us the answer, the moment it shows signs of success.
It’s about our culture. Our climate. Our gratitude — or lack thereof — in the name of one-upping the individuals who were once so kind to help us. Gratitude is the difference between them doing it again. It’s what makes for a kinder culture — but only so far as we extend it.
For all the lessons I discuss on Currently Loving, I’m not always the greatest exhibitionist of their progress. Sure, I endeavour to adult at times. And as many, I fall back into childish ways. I claim I won’t make a smoothie bowl for dinner — and on testing, tired nights, I’ll reach for the comfort of a frozen Açaí pack. Change takes time, and often, the lessons that are most embedded in us have been several years in the making.
I remember when I first started this blog back in November 2011. It grew from a very genuine place. From a girl too young to possibly pursue insincerity. She spent hours scrolling her Tumblr feed. She even scheduled posts for the duration of holidays spent at her Grandparents. In one fleeting mood, she deleted her long-curated mood-board. What was it all for, she asked.
She’d return, of course. Tumblr was like that: addictive to young girls with space for escapism and dreams in their heads. With that said, it satisfied for only a while. Until compliments about the way she’d pieced the puzzle, or even chosen the most aesthetic pieces, simply weren’t enough.
It was in her heart to write and to create. Things that she could scribble her own name on. And so she began a platform where she could. This platform would be named Currently Loving.
When I started my blog, I was young. I was far younger than anyone else who seemed to be blogging at the time. Aside from a couple of friends who found an equal passion in writing or photography, there were few others around me to lean on for advice or any sort of leg-up in the industry. With no code-book for how to blog [never-mind how to become successful at doing so], I reached out to those who I was sure could teach me.
I remember two years in — when I’d finally stopped humming and ha-ing about whether to commit to Currently Loving — I interviewed a blogger all the way over from Oakland, California [I dare you to track down the post. I don’t dare you to read it]. I loved her work, and so we chatted back-and-forth. She was, or so I assume, at least 10 years older than me at the time. To me, she was doing something — better yet, providing something — of a value I wished to one day provide. I am in constant search of this value, you see. Of ways to make my words as nourishing to digest.. as they feel to write.
It is funny how to this day, I recall such a connection as pivotal in my blogging journey. I wonder if she even remembers my name? I can whole-heartedly admit, that it wouldn’t matter if she didn’t. She had all the impact on me that she — or I — needed.
I don’t solely have a well-dressed and well-written, Californian blogger to thank. I have every person who ever shared their experience — and thus directed or grew mine. I have every individual who ever complimented my work. Even those who bashed it. You made Currently Loving what it is: you made it stronger.
I have every brand who ever agreed to work with me. Every individual or business who ever believed in me. I have every person who, for whatever reason, chose to give me and my passion the time of day. Indeed, I could pronounce Currently Loving entirely my making. But its ideas are not solely mine [is any lesson ever unique to one person], and its experiences come as a result of far more individuals than myself.
My blog isn’t my blog without me, after all. And I am not me, without so many other people. I’d be naive to presume the things I’ve learned — whether about blogging or about life in general — have stemmed single-handedly from my own experience, or from such an inevitability as enhanced awareness. What would be most ignorant of all, however, would be to assume that each person who, both consciously and subconsciously added to this journey, actually had any level of obligation to do so.
Beyond my family — who I suppose we could argue are compelled to support me in my dreams and passions — what obligation does a woman located on the other side of the world have to a 14-year-old? What makes the same woman agree to be interviewed for said 14-year-old’s platform? What makes her take the time to engage in conversation, to read my work — better yet, to express value for it?
In my eyes, there is just one thing. A single thing with several faces: these faces look like kindness and a willingness to help others. The single thing? I’d argue it’s generosity.
In a world that struggles to find time for unwarranted generosity, any action that is completed without sensical, systematic or selfish reasoning ought to be utterly praised, if you ask me.
When individuals, brands and businesses began to show support for me — with no basis that could have exceeded mere faith — I began to understand the importance of being thankful. When there’s nothing else to return, let it be said there is always thanks.
To this day, if you go out of your way to grab coffee with me in order to share what you do, I am grateful. When you give me [a stranger to most of you], 20 minutes of your time to read my article, I am thankful. When you tell me about your routines or you divulge your learnings. When you don’t — when I ask. When I express wonder, when I propose seven more questions. When I worry about being two minutes late for you. I am thankful.
My time is the most precious thing I have. And so even more precious is something I don’t have: YOURS. Each moment you donate your time to bettering my journey, such that could have been utilised for yours, is appreciated beyond describable belief.
Here’s the thing. Not a single person on this earth — such whom is not assigned to us from birth — has an obligation do something for us. No one — I’m talking not one single person — has an obligation to gift us with their time. With their interest. Or with their experience.
Time, effort and generosity: these three are gifts. And you don’t simply fail to say thank you when you receive a gift. No matter how awkward it feels to say the words or how small you’re worried you may shrink, you say it. For every time you size up to express thanks, you become a better person.
I urge you to think back now. If you’ve received advice, support or an opportunity as of late — in fact, as of ever — that you did not adequately show thanks for, go and do it now. Showing thanks is like gifting a Christmas present: it’s always better late than never.
If you ask me, it is not cool. It is not impressive. It does not say anything positive to me about your character, to be nonchalant nor to play down gratitude. Such an approach to those who help us in life will surely get us nowhere. As the great Gigi Hadid once said [perhaps in other words], there will always be someone more beautiful, more clever or more networked.
Stand out by being more thankful. It’s the single thing we have control over, after all. Why wouldn’t we use it?
Images by Julia Krivoshev [edited by me].
Make-up and hair by Dominique Matthews.