I had the opportunity to contribute to a series by Sharalyn Hartwell (Twitter @SharalynHartwel) at Examiner.com entitled Gen Y Gives Thanks. Her stated goal for the month-long project was to counteract the many myths that are associated with Gen Y, most notably that we’re spoiled, thankless brats.

While my answer was pretty short (you can read it here), I didn’t come to it easily. It has been a hard year for learning tough lessons and I can’t say that I’m happy about some of the situations I encountered. As I thought about the last year, I kept reliving some of the individual frustrations that made it difficult. I’ll admit that I also got into a bit of a “poor me” mood, rehashing mistakes and reliving decisions that, while not wrong, I might have made differently with the benefit of hindsight.

However, as I started looking at 2009 in total, I realized that I had made some considerable strides, all in the shadow of a horrible economy. I chastised myself a little bit for the woe-is-me attitude and realized that the year was actually one of the greatest opportunities for learning I’ve ever had. In addition, I got to go through these challenges while remaining gainfully employed and with the support of friends and family.

Maybe you’re a Gen Yer, maybe you’re not, but for what are you thankful in 2009? What has made this year an important one for you? What challenges and opportunities helped you grow?