Words of appreciation

Paul - wakeforest, North Dakota
Entered on May 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

It takes failure to appreciate accomplishment, discomfort to appreciate comfort, a loss to appreciate a love; This I believe. The classic proverb that you never know what you have until it’s gone, is far truer than I would like to admit. It is a basic concept that is easy to understand, yet has a pain incomparable to anything.

Growing up I lost many things, from simple things such as a Sega, to major things such as my parents divorcing. With this I have come to learn that the only true way to realize what you have is to lose it. I know that sounds brutal but it’s true. I’m not saying go out and get rid of everything that you care about, I’m just saying that perhaps the things that mean most to someone could mean even more if they were to live without that special thing for a while.

My first lesson in appreciation came from failure. I was never the type to take school seriously because I always figured that I would crack down in college. When that time came for college applications I was set on where I wanted to go, UNCG, so I applied; granted I waited till March to apply for fall semester. Without outstanding grades and applying as late as possible, clearly I shouldn’t have been waiting for an acceptance letter. When I was told by an advisor that I should take courses at another institute of education first, it hit me, I had failed. From this I realized that I have to appreciate opportunities that are given to me. Accomplishments don’t happen on accident, and it took failure for me to learn to be grateful for an opportunity to succeed.

Next comes the time that I realized the truth behind the notion of appreciation from loss: basic training. My whole life I had taken for granted the fact that anything I lost I could just replace. I always just bought a new Play Station when one broke, my dad always had a new girlfriend to replace his last, I could always do better on the next test to make up for a bad one. It wasn’t until I had something that I couldn’t replace that I realized that you have to appreciate what you have, not just replace it. When I shipped off to basic training, I had been in a relationship for a year and a half with my first true love. The loss came in the next five months that I was gone. All of the things that meant the world to me were stripped from my grasp. This time I couldn’t get a new family or a new girlfriend. I didn’t have the luxury of freedom anymore.

From my military training I learned two important means of appreciation: From the enduring of inconvenience, comes the appreciation for comfort. After accompanying for not having anything anymore I learned the harshest form of appreciation, for the things that I had lost.

This I believe, it takes failure to appreciate accomplishment, discomfort to appreciate comfort, and loss to appreciate love.