Take Nothing for Granted

Aaron - Burr Ridge, Illinois
Entered on April 20, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

When I was in Merida, Mexico last summer, it was the first time I had been out of the United States and really seen how other people live. This area is not like Cancun or other areas in Mexico that could be considered “Americanized,” it is how Mexico is in most parts. I am lucky enough to have extended family that lives in this area, so my family was able to get a more traditional and realistic view of the Mexican lifestyle and culture. I was surprised to see how small some of the homes were, especially outside of town. Some people still live in huts without plumbing and electricity. These experiences helped strengthen my belief in taking nothing for granted.

From a young age I had always thought that most countries were pretty similar in lifestyle, with the exception of cultural differences. I thought that everyone always had food and shelter and enough money to get more than just the bare necessities of life. I thought that all schools were the same, too. As I grew older I began to realize that this was not the case. Through books and school I learned that life was harsher in other countries, but I still thought that these must be the worst case scenarios for these countries, and that most areas were affluent. These views changed as a result of my vacation to Mexico.

The trip taught me to be more grateful for the things I have and to complain less. This grateful feeling can be seen in less prosperous countries. Of the few families I saw while away from the United States, seemed to work harder than I had seen. They did not waste time feeling bad for themselves, they just continued trying to better themselves. I realized that Americans have time to complain about so much because we live such a comfortable and easy life. Americans should follow the lead of these hard working countries by spending more time giving thanks for family and prosperity, because things could be much worse for us.

As a message to all of the ungrateful Americans, do not look at only the bad things you see. Look to the good things in life and be happy you live in the United States. For these reasons I believe in taking nothing for granted.