Ali - Bunker Hill, Illinois
Entered on October 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, gratitude

When we say “Thank You,” we expect to hear “Your Welcome.” When we give up our time and energy, we expect a reward or recognition. Even when we give someone our money, we expect a product or service in return. I believe giving without expecting anything in return is a deep part of spiritual growth.

In our busy world it’s common for us to think only about ourselves. I used to find myself asking, “What am I going to get out of this?” in just about every situation I was in. I spent four long years starting the process of really growing up, which most people would call high school. I spent most of my time believing that the more I gave, the more I would receive. I tried every day to figure out new ways to be recognized for the effort and care I put into things and people.

My sophomore and junior years consumed and broke me down when I had my first real boyfriend. I always wanted to be with Brett, but he didn’t always have time for me. He pushed every button I had and I always forgave him for everything he did, expecting that he would somehow be learning something, and I would be rewarded for not giving up on him. When he was heavy into drugs, I kept him as busy as I possibly could in order to “save him” from hurting himself and the peer pressure from his friends. No matter how hard I tried or how many people I sacrificed, I never felt I was winning the battle between me and his so called friends. I was constantly hurting and constantly struggling because I couldn’t figure out what to do. I even started taking my anger and confusion out on myself, and not in very healthy ways, because I wasn’t seeing results anywhere else. Something so small was tearing me apart and crushed everything inside of me that wanted to be a good person. I remember banging my fists on the ground, begging the wall for some answers as to why the evil people always win when things finally reached an end. “How come I have to hurt? I’ve done everything I possibly can to be to be the better person!”

High school was quite possibly one of the worst times of my life. I did grow from it, and I have met some amazing people who have shown me that if you can learn to give without expecting anything in return, you’re a step ahead of everyone else. My boyfriend Danny and my friend Lauren have helped me achieve this wonderful feeling that beats any gratitude I can receive. I have grown so much in such little time and I feel wonderful. I know now that just because results obvious they’re there, and I helped make something happen or even just put a smile on someone’s face.