I would like to preface this blog post with the fact that I was 12 years old when 2009 quickly transformed into 2010.
Throughout this past decade, I graduated from middle school, survived high school, and finished college. I fell in love and had my heart broken (at least a few times). I made three completely new cities feel like home. I cultivated relationships with most of my closest friends and lost others. I suffered from family tragedies, with the past 10 years nearly bookended with three family deaths. I battled mental health demons and went to my first therapy session. I started a career. I traveled, I laughed, I cried, I journaled, and at times I felt emotionally numb. This list could go on forever…
Here are some of my most valuable takeaways from all of the experiences I had:
1. Don’t create an idea of what life should be based on what you see – try to enjoy what you have.
In 2010, I created a Facebook account, which was my first real taste of social media. I made more accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and even Linkedin. This might sound like a broken record, but everyone puts the best version of themselves on their social media pages. People will only be vulnerable with any struggle that they are having a handful of times, if that. I’m still a victim of comparing my life to those of others, but in the end it only hurts me. It’s best to limit time on a screen and better to actually live life and make memories that matter.
2. Do remember that there are people who love and support you.
In 2013, my mental health was at its absolute worst. I felt as if no one cared deeply about me or would notice if I was gone. I forgot about my family, both the family I was blessed with at birth and the family that I had curated through friendship. While I believed that the majority of people in my life did not care for me, I was made aware I could lean on a few people.
3. Don’t put pressure on events or time periods of your life.
I was talking to one of my best friends recently about the idea that “college is the best time of your life.” While college is the last time where you most likely have the least responsibility in your life, it’s not right to put that time period on a pedestal. In reality, most adults that I have met have never said this to me. It’s a common sentence used to stimulate emotion in pop culture to create a sense of intensity and nostalgia.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t love college, because I did. It just means that life is a series of peaks and plateaus. I’ve been told by movies, television, and social media that my 20s are supposed to be incredible. Also, what about marriage, starting a family, or having a career that you’re genuinely happy to have? My mom even mentioned that for the most part she has been really enjoying life recently.
It’s much better to go about life in this simple manner: expect nothing, hope for the best, plan for the worst. You lower the probability of upsetting yourself by expecting nothing.
4. Do make an effort.
Life doesn’t just happen. If you’re lucky, things fall into your lap. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the vast majority of humans. If you want to see or talk to a friend, you have to put yourself out there. If you want to get a specific job, you have to apply. If you want to learn a skill, sport, or hobby, you have to practice. Half of the battle is actually doing something.
5. Don’t forget to put yourself first.
Whether it’s mental or physical health, your body knows what it needs. I’ve learned the importance of listening to it. There might be days where you have too much going on and aren’t able to give the body what it needs, but as long as you put the effort in during appropriate time windows, you’ll feel better. I also learned the importance of standing up for myself and focusing on what I want to do, within reason. At the beginning of this decade, I was labeled as a pushover by people because they felt like they could take advantage of me. That’s not the truth anymore.
6. Do remember to keep exploring.
This is so important. Your likes and tastes change as your life evolves from one form to another. Some things stay constant. For example, I will probably always enjoy an episode of The Office or one of my childhood-favorite Hilary Duff movies. However, it’s so important to introduce new things into your life. Whether it’s a new food, a new music artist or genre, a new television show that your friend suggested, picking up an instrument, or reading an author unfamiliar to you, you will learn new things about myself. I’m ending this decade realizing that some of my favorite things include folk-toned music, doing crossword puzzles, eating sticky toffee pudding or dark chocolate, and watching The Great British Bake-Off. I don’t think I could have predicted this for myself even two years ago.
7. Don’t assume that you have your life 100% together or predict you ever fully will.
One blessing of living through some of my most formative years throughout the 2010s is that I put myself through many stages of life. When you’re younger, you think that everyone older than you is doing life effortlessly. I expected to feel like that when I had reached their ages. When I found that not to be the case, I kept pushing those years back, thinking “Maybe when I’m 15 I’ll have it together. 18 for sure. Once I graduate college I will have all of the answers.” Once I reached all of these milestones, I realized that I didn’t have nearly half of the answers I thought I would at the time.
While you learn different skills and become wiser with age and experience, life always throws new things at you to keep you on your toes and throw you off of your course. You can use what you’ve learned to make things easier, but you’ll never have it 100% together.
These are the things that I have been thinking about over the past couple of days. I hope I learn and experience new things in the next 10 years to come and I cannot wait to see how I’ve evolved.
If you knew me in any point in time in the past decade, know that you have most likely taught me something about life. These things include new perspective, how to be a better person, how to develop a new skill, random trivia, or how to not take things as seriously.
I can’t wait to see what the 2020s have in store. Thanks for reading 🙂