You might have seen the memes going around – it’s almost 2020, what have you achieved this decade?
I’m sure it’s meant good-naturedly (with a healthy dose of internet snark) but for those of us who live on the perpetual edge of a panic attack (guilty), it can set the heart racing.
And yet with the end of the decade careening toward us (at an unsettling pace), it does pay to look back at your own achievements. We spend so much time focussing on our goals and resolutions (with January all but devoted to the practice), we often forget to celebrate the wins.
So let’s take some time to reflect.
Ask anybody of note how they did anything, and they tend to trot out a version of the same line: it didn’t happen the way I expected it would.
When I graduated from university in 2015, I was handed a piece of paper that represented crying in front of a lecturer, changing my minor twice, and leaving one class halfway through so I didn’t have to give my half-baked presentation. It also represented acing classes and winning awards. It represented a zigzag – a years long race in which I was only competing with myself.
When those big moments arrive, like a graduation or, say, the turn of the decade, it feels like those moments are what life is all about.
But it’s not true.
Life is about the long, slow, contradictory race.
Life is what we show up to every day. It’s the decisions we make and the friendships we keep. Life is the details. Life is the slog.
Think back to 2009. How old were you? What clothes were you wearing? Dare I ask – how were you styling your hair? It’s quite a long time ago, when you think about it properly.
Now imagine your 2009-self showing up to do the things you do every day. They wouldn’t know how to cope. You’re not that person anymore.
Maybe you’ve graduated high school since then. Maybe you’ve graduated uni. Maybe you’ve come out of the closet. Maybe you’ve had a child. Maybe you’ve entered the workforce. Maybe you’ve learned how to do your own laundry. It doesn’t matter how large or small your decade’s worth of achievements are – they exist and they are yours.
You know their true value. You know their true weight.
Perhaps we should all give an offering of thanks to that 2009 version of ourselves – that naïve, inexperienced person – for the work they did to get us to 2019.
You’re going to do so much we should tell them. I’m so proud of you.
Perhaps we could let them know that life is a jungle gym, not a ladder. That there will be things they drop out of, things they change their mind about, and at least one thing they leave in a great big mess. From all of these things, they’ll gain the best thing life can offer: experience.
We could also let them know there’ll be things they find they’re great at. People they fall in love with. Friendships yet to be born.
But that would be ruining the surprise.
And if you’ll indulge me, perhaps you could think about what your 2029-self will want to say to the naïve, inexperienced 2019 version of you.
Perhaps it’ll be much of the same.
As for right now, I recommend taking a breath and reflecting.
You’ve done a hell of a lot, and if it counts for anything – this writer is proud of you.Support Villainesse