30 Days of Gratitude: Unexpected Blessings

Happy November!

Wow. I cannot believe I just typed that. We officially are at the end of 2017. SAY WHAT?! I’m not entirely sure how this is possible, as I am still mentally in June. Yikes!

November, though often busy with the holidays coming about, is one of my favorite months. Honestly, I think many people overlook the beauty of this month. Usually, after Halloween, bam! Christmas explodes everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. It makes me feel like a child again. But, I think that November is a wonderful preparation for the Christmas season. It’s a time to reflect on the months before, express our gratitude to those around us, and count our numerous blessings.

“Some people might say that happy people become thankful people. But perhaps it’s the other way around. It’s the thankful people who are happy.” ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee

Every year I love to do something that really makes me focus on what God has given me. This year, I’m doing the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge by my friend, and wonderful author, Jennifer Dukes LeeIf you haven’t read her blog, books, or follow her on Instagram, DO IT! She inspires me every day with her faith, strength, and hope. Anyway, this is a wonderful challenge that creates time in our busy lives to stop, pause, and remember just how blessed we truly are.

Since today is November 1st, that means it’s day one! Today’s challenge is to express gratitude for unexpected blessings. 

Well, for me, that would be my former job as a AAA Travel Counselor.

My job as a Travel Agent was something that I never would have considered a blessing before. There were days when it was stressful, difficult, and more often than not, I just wanted to throw in the towel. But, then there were days when I felt like I belonged. I felt like the travel industry was where I was meant to be. I felt comfortable, I learned more than I ever have in my four years of college, and I met people who ultimately, left an impact on me in some positive ways.

I never expected to love an industry that I knew nothing about.

When I started in February 2016, I went in to that position as a stubborn, naive, college graduate who thought she knew it all. I went in with the low expectations and low confidence. I feel embarrassed to say that now, but it’s true. I had a Public Relations degree, I wanted to work in that field, not in travel. As a fresh college graduate, I automatically assumed that I would get a job within my field right away, and because I assumed that, I had a whole plan laid out for my career life.

I’ve always loved animals, and I always knew I wanted to work with them. Since being a Veterinarian was out of the question for me, I figured I could use my Public Relations degree to indirectly help animals – maybe by working for a humane society, or something like that. Alas, that job never came, and I needed to start making some money, so when this opportunity arose, I had to grab it.

In my interview, I remember my supervisor asking me “do you think your love for travel can outweigh your love for animals?” I looked at her as if she had three heads, and tried to hold back laughter. “No” I simply, and matter of factly, replied. I don’t think she ever liked that answer, and to be honest, she scared me. After finding out the details of being a Travel Counselor, I walked out of there completely freaked out. All I remember thinking was how I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I got offered the job and it seemed like everyone was happy for me, except me. Like I said, I was stubborn, naive, and a seemingly smart know it all. I didn’t get the dream job I wanted right out of the gate, so I pouted. Definitely not one of my finest moments. 

Before I knew it, I was going through training, getting to know my co-workers, learning all about destinations that I had never knew about, learning all about our different vendors, and fast forward a few months, I was on the phone making reservations. And, a slow, but strong love for travel soon developed.

Over the course of my career as a travel agent, I realized that there’s so much beauty in the world – more so than I ever thought possible. I realized that I’ve been living one boooring life! There’s so much of the world that I now want, no, need to see! I want to travel all over Europe.

I want to drink wine and eat pizza in Italy while relaxing on the Amalfi Coast.

I want to go on an African Safari, see Victoria Falls, backpack through Germany, dine in the Eiffel Tower, marvel at the luscious beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, stand next to a guard at Buckingham Palace, and more!

I would never have a travel list so long, if it weren’t for my time at AAA.

I also would never be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for those that led me during my time at AAA.

I was fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people and make lifelong friends with my coworkers. We laughed together, hung out together, vented to each other, and for the first time in my life, I met genuine friends who liked me, for *gasp* me. It’s still shocking to me!

Oh, and that supervisor that I was so scared of when I first started? She ended up being one of my biggest positive influences. Sure, we butted heads a bit, mainly because this girl right here needs to be hit in the head with a 2×4 sometimes. But, ultimately, she ended up being a wonderful mentor to me, whether she likes it or not.

Not only did she teach me about travel, she ended up teaching me more about myself than I ever thought possible. She taught me about professionalism and how to conduct myself in the real world. She taught me how to be successful, not only in my professional life, but personal life too. Most importantly, she helped raise my confidence that was literally at zero, and helped me to value myself at a higher price than I ever have before. That alone was an unexpected blessing which, I will always be grateful for, and if were being honest, I really miss that.

Every step I took as a travel agent was an unexpected blessing. Now, if someone were to ask me “do you think your love for travel could outweigh your love for animals?” I would have to say, the love would be about the same.

I don’t know where my journey is going to go. I never expected to even be on the paths that I’ve traveled. Frankly, I’m more confused now than I ever have been, but I’m learning to roll with it and trust the magic of new beginnings as I embark on a new career path in Veterinary Technology. One thing I do know though, is that travel will always, in some way, be a part of my life.

Unexpected blessings? Man, those sure are sweet.

“Gratitude is powerful. Gratitude acknowledges the goodness in our lives as they exist today, not as we wish them to be. It is the stubborn refusal to be held hostage by fear and despair. It’s saying to the world — and to ourselves — that despite everything, this old world is still a beautiful place. No matter how hopeless it all seems, there’s always, always something to be thankful for. I’ve come to believe that gratitude is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like … and celebrating it for what it already is. ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee


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