From a Teen’s Perspective: Celebrating your relationships

by Dylan Lanier on May 2, 2023

We are all deeply social beings. We are driven to connect with others and build communities that offer friendship, family, and support. While some people classify themselves as extroverts and others as introverts, we all have people in our lives who provide us with joy, comfort, and connection.

However, we often forget to let those people know how much we appreciate them. Even if we do, it often comes packaged in cliché messages that discount the uniqueness and significance of every single relationship. As such, here is a list of meaningful guidelines for how to communicate your gratitude for the people in your life.

1. Show, Don’t Tell: While this is also a classic writing tip, it certainly applies to our topic as well. While telling someone how much they mean to you will certainly brighten their day, words are relatively empty (and I say this as someone who believes deeply in the power of language). However, showing people you care by taking them out to lunch, doing their share of chores, or simply giving them a nice, long hug lets them know that you understand the value they bring to your life and that you want to put in hyper-verbal effort to give back to them.

2. Perk up Those Ears: Personally, I always feel appreciated and respected when people pay attention to what I have to say. This goes beyond just sitting there and hearing people talk; truly listen to their words and in doing so show them that you value their individual voice. If they’re upset, let them vent out all of their feelings. If they’re happy about a piece of good news, share in that joy with them.

By remaining attentive, you display a respect for their emotions and opinions and communicate a desire to support them through triumphs as well as struggles. Even better, the closer you pay attention, the more you’ll learn about them, and you can check back in on them about the things they said to show you care. Everyone can admit that it feels pretty good to know someone remembered something small you had shared a long time ago.

3. The Angel’s in the Details: While it’s nice to take a moment every once in a while to celebrate someone in your life, it’s even better to show gratitude for your relationships in little ways all the time. Cracking a joke to make them feel better, providing encouragement for something big they have coming up, or simply thanking them when they offer you words of advice can all demonstrate a deep acknowledgement of the value they bring into your life and a willingness to return the favor.

4. Go Ahead and Ask: We all give and accept love and appreciation differently. For some, they feel most special when they receive gifts; for others, its words of affirmation or acts of service. It’s important to understand how others like to be celebrated in order to make sure you’re celebrating them as best you can!

We all have relationships to appreciate, and the easiest way to do so is just by being a good friend in return. It’s important to let the people who improve our lives know just how much we love them. So the next time you see your BFF — or your pesky sibling who you actually couldn’t live without — give them a hug, a thank-you, and let them know just how much you care!

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