I appreciate thousand island dressing (and so much more)


Anlon Zhu, Managing Editor

This year has been weird: School events disappeared, Zoom class was pioneered, presidential candidates ferociously electioneered and mosquitos were released that were bioengineered (look it up!). Weirdest of all was the distance. When the class of 2021 should’ve been closer than ever, we were 6 feet apart or more. This year has been weird, but we persevered. 

Amidst all this weirdness, distance and uncalled-for time to self-reflect, I started gratitude journaling. Side note: I think that bullet journaling (a different but similar practice) is just a fun way to feel productive while not being productive. But back to gratitude journaling: Gratitude journaling is about counting your blessings––friends and family, a hobby you’re progressing, an item you’re possessing or maybe even a salad’s incredibly tasty thousand island dressing. In a weird year of have-nots, gratitude journaling is a way for me to appreciate the things I’m fortunate to have. Several studies have shown that gratitude journaling has a plethora of mental health benefits and keeps you grounded! Admittedly, I’m not sure if what I do actually counts as gratitude journaling. I’m too lazy to write down the objects of my gratitude, so I usually just make a mental note of a couple things that I’m grateful for as I fall asleep. So here goes my attempt at real gratitude journaling:

I’d like to give a massive thank you to my parents, sister and grandma for their never-ending support and optimism. Thank you to my dog for having the fluffiest butt and giving our family an excuse to discover every scenic hike in Irvine. Thank you to all my friends for the influx of virtual interaction, Discord calls and top-notch Valorant gameplay. 

Thank you to Science Olympiad for being a family of unfettered geniuses; thank you for generously teaching each other new topics and persevering through our quieter-than-normal competitions on scilympiad.com. Thank you to Odyssey of the Mind and all the OMelettes for somehow remaining the most chill STEM club out there, even though we couldn’t travel to Nashville this summer for our national tournament (yep, I am using this publishing space to shamelessly plug my clubs. Sign up!). Thank you to chorus for being a hub of music-lovers who are amazing to sing with; I’ve learned so much about singing and music these past four years. And last but not least, thank you to The Howler. Honestly, I started this year worried that our publication would barely stay afloat with all the weirdness going on, but we ended up cruising along the coastline on a yacht (except for deadline days, which were like anchors dragging in the sand). Thank you for fighting through the Thursday Zoom fatigue, deciphering InDesign’s workspace and constantly outputting creative articles, photos, ads and graphics. To Ms. Alburger, thank you for putting up with us as we fumbled to make things work. To next year’s team, I can’t wait to see the brilliant ideas you bring to The Howler and The Howler Online!

Whew, that was the most legitimate gratitude journaling I’ve done all year.

But here’s the great part: Gratitude journaling trains your mind to find silver linings. So as we escape this weird year, I’m confident that the normal-est things will become gilded happiness bombs. Get ready to sit in a classroom with table groups that face each other. Imagine how great it’ll be to stand around The Oak without masks and actually be able to tell whether your friend is squinting or smiling. 

In this weird year of have-nots and 6-foot distances, gratitude shows you that your friends and family are closer than ever. So what can I say except for “thank you”?