There are many reasons I try to express my gratitude regularly, but my number one reason is because I have suffered from anxiety ever since preschool. Specifically, I believe I have Social Anxiety Disorder. Certain traumatic experiences, which I will not get into right now (maybe someday I’ll go public, since I believe that may help people realize they’re not alone!), lead me to believe that I do not measure up to the rest of society. I was never anxious about riding in planes, I never worried that I wouldn’t finish a school program, and I never worried about crowds at restaurants or the gym. I just worried (and worry) about rejection. It’s funny, though, because I am outwardly a very friendly/outgoing person. You would probably never guess that I feel this way, but I DO. This anxiety has felt like a part of who I am for over 20 years now, and I am utilizing all the coping strategies I can to manage it. Something happened at work near the end of February that sent me into something that I would like to call an “anxious episode.” It was completely unexpected and triggered me to feel very anxious/rejected. The event would be very minimal to most people, but for me it felt catastrophic. I knew something needed to change; I could not be sent into an “anxious episode” every time something like that thing at work happened. And this will inevitably happen again, as it has happened to most of my coworkers at some point or another. I have come a long way with my anxiety since preschool, but some things still really shake my confidence. I took the opportunity of a new month to start a new challenge: I began writing down 3 things I was grateful for each and every day in March. It’s great to look at a seemingly “bad” day and find 3 positive things about it. For example, on one of the days in March, I had to cut my 5 mile run short due to knee pain. I still found that a plant was growing! And, you know what? Finding my first plant of the year brought a smile to my face, despite having a bad run. I also was able to see that my knee pain was probably due to old shoes. I feel grateful that I now have super cool new shoes and my knee no longer hurts! During the times when I feel rejected by others, which is basically what happened at work (I so wish it were ethical for me to tell this story publicly, but I can’t), I remember the people who are actually there for me… the people who I trust. I anchor myself on my people/the people who tell me positive things, my accomplishments, and the things I love (like coloring and, of course, running!). I anchor myself on gratitude. When life gets tough, I try to remember to chase the good. Sometimes, that’s really hard, but writing my gratitude down each day is worth it. I go to sleep every night now with a mind full of positivity. I believe in gratitude because there are so many things we don’t have, but there are also SO MANY things we do have. Gratitude helps remind me that I am incredibly fortunate in this little life. It also helps me find humor in everyday situations, such as paying for parking: I am also grateful for funny Snapchat filters. Gratitude for my health reminds me to fuel my body with vegetables/whole grains instead of with junk food. I have ZERO health problems and am proud of it! Gotta keep it up! Side note: I have finally recovered from #SaladJanuary (that time I ate salad 1x/day for the entire month of January… never again). Basically, I never wanted to eat salad again after that month, but I can do it now (in moderation). My last piece of gratitude for today’s Gratitude Friday is that, despite my past experiences, I have NEVER let my social anxiety stop me from doing ANYTHING. EVER. I performed figure skating solos in front of more than 100 people. I presented my psychology research projects to a bunch of academics. I have formed meaningful relationships with others. I’ve never skipped a job interview. I write a public blog! These things are MUCH harder for people like me than they are for others, but I push through my fears and continue to lead a full life. What more can I ask for? What are you grateful for today?