The last month of my senior year was full of goodbyes. I ran around the school to asking people to sign my yearbook while also signing theirs, and I took pictures with the teachers that had inspired me so much. Commencement was filled with even more pictures of me and my friends in our caps and gowns and many thank you's and good luck's after the ceremony. I even got a gift from my manager on my last day of work. I also wrote a letter to my violin teacher during my last lesson. These are the people that defined my high school career and me as a person; expressing my gratitude was necessary before I leave the town for university.
There are, however, people who have played just as important roles but aren't in my life any longer, whether by choice or not. Some of them have become estranged from me through some misunderstanding, while others have vanished from social media and therefore denied me any means of communication with them. Then there's my family, who I have thanked countless times in my yearbook quotes and Facebook posts but not in person despite the fact that they are always by my side. All of these are people who need to know my appreciation for them.
My dear grandfather, how I wish you had a chance to see my graduation. You passed away during my most vulnerable year when I struggled with anxiety, yet you also taught me how to say goodbye. Our family was brought closer, and I hope you felt proud of that. Thank you for always wanting the best for your children and teaching them the importance of education. It is for that reason my mother passes on the notion that education is a gift to me and my siblings. I would not have regarded my university education with such importance had you been anything less than supportive of my mother's and her siblings' undergraduate, master's and doctorate careers.
My grandmothers from both sides of my family, both of whom have played such important roles in my childhood, thank you for taking care of me as a kid and even now as a teenager. You both have never failed to make me feel safe and at home whenever I visit. Knowing that there are people out there who are worried about whether or not I will have a good time in university is a heartwarming thought. Of course, I will try my best to show you both that I am competent enough to take care of myself. Our family has never been big on saying our affection out loud, but I do want to let you both know that I have nothing but appreciation for you.
To my first piano teacher, whose strict training had intimidated me. It is true that the way you taught the lessons was not my favorite, but I do need to thank you for making me stronger in taking criticism. After all, you were the teacher that built up my work habits and skills at sight-reading. I'd like to think that I really grew as a person after my lessons with you. Now that piano is no longer a source of stress for me but rather something that helps me unwind, I'm glad that I have learned enough from you to be able to play the songs I love.
My first friend of ten years, who I stopped talking to gradually, we used to be there for each other during the big and small moments in our lives. From piano recitals to elementary school graduation, from sharing exciting news in our lives to crying together, we truly have been through so much together. I don't know what happened – as we became busier, we started to text each other less and less, now to the point where we only text each other a quick birthday wish. I wish either of us had tried just a little bit harder to maintain this friendship of ten years; after all, not everyone is blessed with such thing. But I still want to thank you for boosting my self esteem and being a safe haven during the younger years of my life. I hope I was also a good source of support to you all those years.
Most importantly, my parents, you both deserve the most gratitude from me. The way you were brought up by your parents is the same as the way I was brought up by you, which encourages me to always let other people know how thankful I am of them but never of my own parents. We have always been careful to show our affection for each other, which is why you get all the thank-you cards but not a real word from me when it has something to do with showing appreciation. That doesn't invalidate all the things you have done for me though. All the sacrifices you've made just so I can have a university education, teaching me how to treat other people and myself, and each and every single one of the happy memories you've given me. It might be a while before we can openly admit our love for each other, but I want to keep trying. There isn't a thing you've done that I do not appreciate.
All of you people have been extremely important to me. Without any of you I would have been a completely different person, going to a completely different place and having a completely different life right now. So thank you, all of you – you deserve a proper "thank you" from me, for making me who I am, for being one of the best lessons I have ever learned. My future starts now because of you.
And I can't wait.
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