It’s hard to believe this decade is coming to a close. So much has changed – in our personal lives, culture, and country. For me, this decade has certainly been incredibly significant.
In 2010, I was just a confused high schooler.
I was constantly questioning if I should get bangs, I was pooling my money together to buy Jonas Brothers tickets, my therapy consisted of driving around listening to emo music, and my New Year’s Resolution was to write more. In those ways, not a single thing has changed.
In 2019, I’m still just a confused adult.
Although I’ve remained embarrassingly and eerily the same since the beginning of this decade, there’s a lot of formative lessons I’ve learned over these 10 years. And we’re not just talkin’ about not over pluck my eyebrows or avoiding at-home hair highlighting kits. There have been some other more important lessons.
Much has been learned by watching those around me, some through various art forms, but most have been learned from getting hurt and getting back up again. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.
Here are the 10 biggest things I’ve learned (from experience) this decade.
1. There’s a fine line between being accommodating and being a pushover
The most important thing you can be is kind… that includes to yourself. Serve others, but make sure you’re not losing yourself or ignoring your needs in the process.
Written on a piece of paper that’s stayed on my mirror through much of the last decade— through my college dorm, townhouses, apartments, and homes is My Very Important To Do List. It says: “1. Be kind to yourself 2. Be kind to others”
2. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing
Whether that be finding your own personal style and rocking it despite what everyone else is wearing or voting for a different political candidate than your family or staying in to read while everyone else goes out or loving who you want to love. You’re your best self when you’re authentic.
3. Forgive yourself, too
We’ve all been hurt, we’ve all hurt others, and we’ve all probably blamed ourselves for the hurt others have caused us. In the process of healing and growing, forgiving ourselves is an often-forgotten but vital step.
4. Stand up for the little guy
I enjoy being a positive person, but when being a peacemaker leads me to avoid taking sides or hiding my true values then I am helping support painful and oppressive power structures. Your voice makes a difference in amplifying the concerns of those less fortunate or the policies that affect them. Use it to make the world a better place.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” – Desmond Tutu
5. Go with your gut
Things can be “too quiet”. Never trust someone who self-identifies as a “Ross Geller” from FRIENDS. If the voicemail left on your phone is from a random area code in New Jersey claiming to be the IRS to inform you that there’s a warrant out for your arrest unless you wire them thousands of dollars… Just, hang up. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
6. You can say “I Don’t Know”
You don’t have to have an argument for everything or an arsenal for every battle. The smartest person in the room isn’t always the loudest or most opinionated. It’s okay to say “I’m not well-versed enough on the subject to form an opinion but I’m interested to learn more” instead of just trying to speak on something you don’t know with confidence.
7. Sometimes you have to light things on fire
During one particularly tumultuous time, I texted my Dad asking him how to find the balance between staying informed and not wanting to light everything on fire. His response, “maybe sometimes you have to light everything on fire” and I’ve taken that as a symbolic tidbit for getting mad, feeling it, then burning and starting new, using the coals left behind as your fuel.
8. Ask thoughtful questions
In college, I studied a combination of Communication and Interpersonal Relationships classes that have made me an almost insufferable person to attempt to be guarded around. But, I’ve found my affinity for asking thoughtful, open-ended questions to truly get to know someone has led to more interesting conversations and much deeper relationships. Dig in, get to the people around you.
9. It’s not the end of the world
Unless of course, it is. But until then, keep going. It’ll get better.
10. Time is a construct
Social Media has sure made this whole “closing out and entering a new decade” seem stressful. Whose vacation is more extravagant or whose proposal was more complicated or which Elf on the Shelf was most creative? Who hasn’t had any of that? Ultimately, everyone’s on their own timeline and that’s okay. If all you did today was get up, keep breathing, and keep trying. Well, then this decade was a success for you.
Photos from Pixabay