The little things

It never hurts to express gratitude no matter how small it is


Grace Na

Freshmen Grace Na in her childhood apartment in 2015 when she was still living in South Korea.

“Our car has some stains on the floor. I think it’s time to consider getting a new car.”

“I don’t like the dining table.”

“I want a new desk. I’ve been using it for years now.”

“Our sofa looks so bland and we’ve had it for more than a decade. Can we buy a new one?”

When I was a middle school student in Korea, I often complained to my parents to replace the furniture. My parents would always respond by telling me that they aren’t planning on investing in new furniture at that moment, yet, I begged to see change in the apartment.

My life has always been in between California and South Korea. I was born in Chula Vista, and my family and I stayed here until I finished Kindergarten. We moved to Korea for my dad’s job when I was in the first grade. Then, in fourth grade my mom, sister and I moved back to California, leaving my dad behind so that my sister could attend Bonita Vista High School (BVH) and have a bright academic future. Eventually, my mom and I moved back to Korea when I was in seventh grade due to her health, leaving my sister behind so that she could continue her college education. Fast forward, once again, my mom and I moved back to California for the beginning of my highschool years. 

During those unbalanced 14 years of my life, we never got the opportunity to switch out our furniture or car because we were constantly moving. 

My dad got a new job offer from a different company in China about a month ago. I shrugged it off, feeling happy for him and myself  knowing that I would not have to move since I am already in the states with my mom and my sister. 

As I am continuing to learn how to appreciate what I have, it is disheartening to see others taking things for granted.

— Grace Na

Little did I know, with my dad taking the job offer, our family would have to sell most of our belongings, including our furniture and car, since my dad won’t be able to take all of that abroad with him.

Seeing more of my family’s belongings getting sold, I get more anxious every day as pieces of my childhood are handed off to strangers.

For years, I have been using the same furniture, taking it for granted and not realizing that what I had was privilege. It’s also a privilege that I’m here in California and attending high school. I could not be more grateful for my parents’ sacrifices for me and my sister to be in the United States.

If we take a step back from our constant desires, we would find countless advantages and gifts we have that others would long to have. As I am continuing to learn how to appreciate what I have, it is disheartening to see others taking things for granted.

American baseball player Kirby Puckett once said a quote that I have found a few weeks back and has been popping in and out of my head.

“Don’t take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us,” Puckett said.

Life is too short for any of us to worry about the stuff we don’t have. I ask myself numerous questions every time I find something I’m interested in purchasing, “Do I want it or do I need it?” I ask myself. Then I think, “How will it impact my life? Is the stuff I already have not enough? What more do I need to complete my endless desires? I’ve lived for 14 years without it., so I can probably survive a few more years without it.”

If it weren’t for my parents selling our belongings, I would not have been able to perceive that I was more than privileged. I will forever be grateful for my parents, grandparents and ancestors who gave me an opportunity for a better life and future. While I’m sad to see some of my childhood slip away as we sell some of our belongings, it made me realize that I was more than privileged.

Now as a highschool student, I’m coming to realize that there are more than hundreds of things to be grateful for. The dining table I complained about allowed me to start off my day with a warm bowl of soup. I regret looking down at our past belongings, and for the first time in my life, I wish I could go back to our old apartment in Korea and say my proper goodbyes. I will forever miss sitting at the same old dining table every Sunday morning and eating Miyeok-guk, Korean seaweed soup, watching movies late at night on our “bland” sofa after coming home from cram school and going on numerous family trips and adventures in our old car.