• Max Peterson

Thank You.

My love language is, “Words of Affirmation.” The sound of the words “I’m proud of you,” will never cease to soothe my soul and bring a glimmer to my eyes. I care about these words. Who says them, the reason for them being said, and the sincerity to them. These words don’t have to slip off the tongue of every family member or friend I surround myself with. But, I constantly crave the verbal recognition that what I am doing, what I am saying, where I am going, matters.

This is the first time in many, many years, that I have been able to express words of affirmation to myself, freely and truthfully.

The enormous pleasure of traveling the world in 2019 has been mine to share with some of the most extraordinary people I have ever come across. My previous life experiences were nowhere near enough to mentally prepare me for the whirlwind of adventures and trials in both Europe and Los Angeles, and after finally taking a moment to sit down, collect my thoughts, and write this anecdote, I am more than ok with this.

One of my earlier posts discusses the idea that every experience I have will be a memorable one, whether good or bad because I choose to put myself in situations that create unique and memorable moments. I still hold this to be an absolute truth in my reality. A lot has happened since I wrote that initial posting, as one would expect when you spend almost 8 months gallivanting Europe and then unexpectedly doing the same on the West Coast of the U.S. a mere six days after the first expedition had ended. While I don’t mean to brag on my year thus far, I do think that these two specific experiences are a direct result of my ability to press my efforts into opportunities with a large amount of help, support, and the words from those around me.

I mentioned words above, and yet I didn’t say words of affirmation, because they weren’t always the most affirming.

Because of my affinity for words of affirmation, I have often struggled with allowing the expectations and opinions of others to affect how I view my life. We’ve all experienced people trying to intermingle their opinions with what we think our future should/could look like. While I have never held resentment towards others’ opinions, I still found myself dwelling on the idea that such opinions might rather be essential truths for my reality. I began to believe I was limited in life by certain aspects of both my public and private life. This was never the intention of the people who shared their thoughts and I didn’t respond in anger because I believe their motivation was to look out for my best interests. This year has taught me to utilize such opinions as a motive to push myself the extra mile. Opinions of third parties now instill a fire in me that is fueled by the desire to prove them to be exactly what they are, thoughts and suggestions, rather than a predetermined reality for myself. These conversations have propelled me to develop a drive and work ethic like no other.

Thank you for making me work harder. Thank you for speaking words that I sought to prove wrong. My reality can be whatever I make it, regardless of those aspects of my life. 2019 has been a culmination of everything I’ve worked to prove and to gain during my college career thus far.

I am proud of myself.

I am proud of myself for traversing 10 countries and 23 cities within them. Leaving everything I knew behind in pursuit of worldly experiences unlike any other, kick-started my ability to affirm my own actions. I am proud of myself for immersing myself in the Florentine culture whether it be through my own exploration or the opportunities that my classes provided. I learned to operate individually when I’ve often felt I can only feel comfortable out in the world when in group settings. My anxieties were reduced tremendously, even in times where I was alone and left to stir on them. The idea of traveling in accordance with my own itineraries, interests, and ideas now excites me when I initially relied on group thinking to determine plans. I boarded my flight home to Kansas City in May knowing I had become far stronger, far wiser, and far more optimistic about my reality than I would have been had I not boarded the flight to Florence in January.

Before I left Italy, a dream job was offered to me after innumerable hours applying for internships in every entertainment savvy city I knew. WarnerMedia and specifically the TBS/TNT Publicity department bestowed what I will call my favorite job to date. I could not have foreseen the 10-weeks following my abroad experience being equally as character building and spectacularly memorable, but this department and everyone within it far exceeded my expectations. That in itself is a testament to the impressive leadership and team within this department and this company. Los Angeles felt intimidating, but this job made it feel both warm and chock full of opportunities for development, not to mention a few celebrity encounters! I heard laughs when I told the tale of my Melissa McCarthy elevator encounter. My work was met with gratitude by those who asked for it, no matter how big or small. Fellow co-workers helped remind me why I worked so hard to obtain this job through our shared passion for film and television.

The world has been kind to me this year. My friends have been ecstatic for me this year. My internship supervisors developed into my role models this year. My family has provided me an endless amount of support this year.

This is a thank you to all of them, to everyone in my life actually.

Thank you to my friends in Alabama, who gave their goodbyes when I left and their hellos when I returned with an equal amount of excitement. Thank you to my parents and sisters, who visited me overseas to share in my experience. Thank you to my friends and my roommates abroad, who remind me daily that family can evolve from anywhere in the world.

Thank you to my mom, my dad, and Blake, my three biggest supporters this year. My gratitude is endless for you all and your words of optimism, empathy, and joy for my reality that I have made for myself this year. You’re the reason I make every day an opportunity to better myself rather than letting them all simply pass by.

I hope this has helped all who are reading feel my gratitude for them radiate. It is also my hope that I’ve inspired some of you to remind yourselves that your reality is not defined by anyone else’s opinions. Support is important, but that said, support can also come from within yourself. I encourage you as a reader to constantly affirm your own actions with words of encouragement and positivity. Self-directed words of affirmation are crucial to our progression in life. Be proud of where you’re at, who you are, and what you’re doing. Live in the moment! No one else has had more of an impact in that than YOU.

Writing this has felt close to euphoric. This is a passion piece and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it. It will not be the last story I tell here. 2019 has been, without an ounce of doubt in my mind, the greatest year of my life thus far. I’m well on my way to becoming who I want to be, thank you for helping me on my journey to get there.


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