August 01, 2021

thank you letters

I’ve attended too many interview and resume prep workshops to count.

  • Learn to “sell yourself” in an interview, they say.
  • “Don’t be afraid to brag,” they say.
  • “Focus on you,” they say.

But how can I do that without using my interview to brag about the incredible family, friends, mentors, and teammates who have blessed me with their support and guided me on this journey since day one?

How do I talk about a project I built without giving credit to the people who took time out of their own schedules to walk me through setting it up? How do I talk about the stories I’ve written without highlighting the people who inspired them?

In high school, I even wrote my final article for our school newspaper on gratitude.

“Gratitude for the little things, the big things and all things in between,” I had written. In it, I talked about my gratitude for the experiences and people who’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

It’s been just over a year since I wrote that article. A lot has happened since then, but I still find myself reflecting on that notion, that gratitude is an immense, immeasureable thing.

Gratitude for the teachers who taught me to read and love learning in my most formative years in Canada, for the educators who helped me explore STEM in Irvine, for the UCLA professors who welcomed me to college, even as I hid behind a screen on Zoom for an entire year.

Gratitude for my parents, who nodded when I talked through my pseudocode despite not understanding a single word I said and left sliced oranges and pears on the table when I emerged from my room at midnight. Gratitude for the clubs and organizations that truly made my first year of college unforgettable. Gratitude for all the people who embraced an awkward introvert with open arms to a virtual campus. I owe it all to them.

It’s funny—I pride myself on my love for writing, but I’ve always struggled with writing coherent thank you notes—I write and rewrite until my brain is exhausted.

I always find myself wondering: how do I even begin to adequately convey my gratitude to someone who put their own time and energy into helping me grow and become a better person? Gratitude is such a deep, complex concept.

Of all the words I ever write in my life, I hope my thank you’s will be the most genuine and the most eloquent.

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word chaos by catherine hu, a tech/enviro student at ucla with a terrible sense of direction and a passion for storytelling.

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