Why I’m Thankful for Family, Friends, and Frenemies

Thrive Global

I’m most grateful for those who help me be the best version of me.

How do you answer the question, “What are you thankful for?”

When I hear this question, I immediately think of people who I am thankful for. But then my brain freezes, because in that instant, there are so many people to be thankful for, I don’t know where to start and where to end. For that reason, I think a better question to ask is, “Who are you thankful for?”

In order to answer this question, it helps me to break down my appreciation into three major groups of people. My family, friends, and frenemies. Maybe these classifications will help you to channel your gratitude.

Family first, including my work family

With nine brothers and sisters, family has always been a big part of my life. My family members have been there for me along my journey, and they definitely make the top of the gratitude list. It is not only my blood family, but also my work family that I have gratitude for. On top of everything they have to take care of daily, my nurses and support staff go out of the way to make sure the hand sanitizer on my table is full, make sure I have a new supply of masks, and make sure I have protective goggles on. Every day they ask me what I would like for lunch, even though they know that I usually take my lunch with me.

On exceptionally busy days, I am famous for leaving my hot tea long enough to get cold. When my staff notices, within a few minutes I find warm tea on my table without me asking them!

Seeing them respond to this pandemic has deepened my appreciation for their crucial roles in not only my day, but in our fragile healthcare system. I have so much respect for them, and I feel like we are all family. When I think of my blood and work family, in addition to gratitude, the other word that rises to the top is “respect.”

Friends, including my patients and their families

Even though we have all been susceptible to feeling deflated in the past year, we have at least all been going through it together. That is why when I think of people I am thankful for, my friends are an entire category. Friends come in many forms, and I have been leaning on my friends to help me make sense of what’s going during this pandemic.

In 2020, it’s been difficult to decipher truth from fiction. We seem to be consumed with the fear of what will happen next. But, even though I may feel that the whole world has taken a wrong turn, my friends remind me that the world will correct course soon. A big portion of those friends are actually my patients. I am the one who is supposed to be taking care of them, yet I have found that they are also taking care of me. Many have managed to take the time to reach out to me, check on me, and tell me I’m in their prayers and thoughts on a daily basis. This means the world to me and I am filled with appreciation.

Sometimes I feel they are helping me way more than I am helping them. But then I remind myself that we are helping each other. We are caring for each other. It is a type of health care rooted in mutual respect and gratitude.

Frenemies, and those who have rejected and doubted me

From everything I’ve read, I’m supposed to thank my frenemies the most. To be quite honest, it’s something that is very hard for me to do. But I know that when something is challenging, it yields many opportunities for growth. However, I am finding value in rejections more than I used to and I am working to be less hard on myself when it comes to those rejections. I have gratitude for seeing people’s true colors, and trusting my gut when I am feeling that a relationship is not serving positivity into my life. I used to not be as good about recognizing red flags, but with practice, I have gotten better.

I have learned, with so much difficulty and after so much heartache, to pay less attention to those who don’t support me as a friend. When it comes to frenemies, I have strength in knowing that their views are not a reflection of me, which makes me double down on my beliefs and values.

I’m so proud that I’ve been able to find the courage to move away from relationships that were toxic, and I feel much lighter. I am finding myself being more resilient from critical comments, and I make an effort to not over engage with those who are negative and critical.  I wholeheartedly believe and agree with Darryl Stinson when he said in his TEDx talk, “Rejection is projection, projection of someone’s own fear and insecurities onto another person.”

Someday I will have a TEDx talk of my own to share my experiences and values with the world.

Maybe I’ll base it on this blog?

The title could be “Why I’m grateful for my family, friends, and frenemies!”

Let me know what you think as a comment, or tweet me at @ReyzanShali.

Reyzan Shali

I’m a primary care physician, board certified in Internal Medicine, and practicing in the San Diego area. I’m a mother, wife, sister, aunt, and friend. But first and foremost, I’m a proud Kurdish daughter of two great Kurdish parents from the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

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