Picture this: you’re running a marathon… WAIT, don’t close out of this post yet! I have a point, I promise.
Okay, so back to the marathon. You’re running, right? It’s mile 25 out of 26.2 and you’re getting SO CLOSE. You’re sweating and your legs are tired. Some part of you hates yourself for even signing up for this stupid marathon. Some part of you is thinking about waffles. Ignore that part for now.
There is also a part of you that feels a second wind coming. You’re a little over a mile away from the finish line and hey, you’ve made it this far! You can feel yourself getting more and more energy as newly produced adrenaline courses through your veins. You think back to mile 8 and how you wanted to give up; you think back to mile 13 and the joy you felt for being halfway done and the defeat you felt for only being halfway done. You’ve come a long way, huh? There were a lot of emotions along the way, a little bit of inner thigh chafing… but hey, the finish line will soon be in sight.
That’s how I feel about the end of this decade as a millennial. As millennials, the last 10 years have been filled with many big milestones for us. We’ve gone from teenagers to adults, to the realization that we’re just kids pretending to be adults (but that’s a story for another time). Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught in the minutiae of everyday life and forget to take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come. Now, as we count down the days until 2020, it’s the perfect time to reflect on, admire and learn from the good ol’ 2010s.
Appreciate Your Milestones (But Don’t Compare With Others’)
If you are a millennial, this has unarguably been the most formative decade of your life. Don’t believe me? I’ve got proof here and here. Because your teen-and-20-years involve so many milestones, you’ve automatically checked some big life events off your theoretical list.
Let’s put it in perspective, shall we? As a millennial, you have probably experienced several of the following milestones since 2010:
- Got your driver’s license
- Went on your first date
- Had your first kiss
- Got your braces off
- Saw your first R-rated movie
- Fell in love (high school love counts, I guess… bonus points if you married them!)
- Got dumped
- Dumped someone
- Got your first minimum wage job
- Graduated high school
- Voted for the first time
- Went to college
- Failed your first test
- Figured out what cheap vodka tasted like
- Figured out what a hangover felt like
- Found “your people”
- Called your mom crying because you were sick and didn’t know how to make a doctor’s appointment by yourself
- Turned 21… no judgment if the cheap vodka came before or after 21 😉
- Got your first internship
- Moved into your first apartment
- Learned that you have to pay utilities on time or they shut off your water
- Graduated college
- Got your first salaried job
- Decided to tolerate the taste of coffee
- Learned how great happy hour is
- Quit your first salaried job
- Met the love of your life
- Got engaged
- Got married
- Got your first promotion at work
- Bought a house
- Decided staying in is way cooler than going out
- Had a kid (or two!)
WOAH. Crazy, right? But guess what: no matter how many of these you checked (or didn’t check) off OR if you didn’t do them in this order, it’s OKAY. Just because your milestones are different than your friend’s or your cousin’s or this random girl’s blog that you’re reading right now (hey), doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong. All I’m asking you to do is reflect: acknowledge the fact that you have been through some serious stuff in the last 10 years. Be proud of your accomplishments! Heck, I’m proud of ya. Way to go!
Acknowledge Your Growth
As I mentioned, you have accomplished some serious milestones in the last 10 years. With all of these big events and significant changes happening, you’ve also likely accomplished a lot of personal growth as well. Think back to 2010 for a moment… can you picture your sweet, little, naive self? You were so cute… thinking you knew everything and whatnot. Teenagers, am I right?! Turns out, all those growing pains were setting you up for something big. Here’s what Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist has to say about how your 20s shape the rest of your life:
Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt. When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20.
There you have it. You have just spent the last 10 years doing some of the most important growth that you ever will in your life. Because of this, who you are in 2019 is likely different than who you were in 2010. You’re like version 2.0… new and improved. And so shiny!
Sure, some parts of you might be the same, but think of all the strides you’ve made. All the changes you went through, all the hard decisions you made and all the obstacles you overcame shaped the awesomely hardworking, caring, charismatic and empathic person you are today. And the cool thing is, you’ll never stop growing and changing.
You might look back at yourself in 2010 and cringe a little, but isn’t it a comforting fact to know that you are on to bigger and better things? Unless you peaked in high school. Please tell me you didn’t peak in high school.
All I’m saying is to be proud of your growth, you beautiful flower.
Pay Homage to the People Who Helped You Grow
You did not get to be where you are today alone – no matter how independent or entrepreneurial you are. The fact is, it took a damn village to get you here. Your parents/guardians, your friends, your family, your teachers, your significant others and even some random strangers have all helped shape the person you have become. They have celebrated your successes. They have called you out on your bullshit. They have comforted you when you were sad. They have given you some sage advice (except for white eyeliner… whoever gave you that advice was just wrong).
Whether these individuals have stayed in your life or have since parted ways, their impact on your journey will always be significant. Mother Teresa said, “Some people come in your life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.” Either way, you owe them.
Over the past decade, there have been people who have taught you:
- To work hard
- To be honest
- To guard your heart
- To be yourself
- To never give up
- To live by your values
- To be humble
- To be patient
- To help others
- To respect yourself
- To cherish your loved ones
No matter how these individuals helped you learn those lessons, they have helped you get one step closer to discovering who you are during the most important period of growth in your life. And for that, you should be grateful.
Accept & Learn From Your Mistakes
Raise your hand if you didn’t make any mistakes in the last 10 years! If anyone raises their hand I would like to remind you that THIS was what style looked like in 2010. Therefore, you are guilty by association.
Over the last decade, you have inevitably made mistakes. You’ve dated some losers, you WERE the loser, you lied about something to your friend, you let someone walk all over you, you didn’t appreciate your parents, you paid too much attention to what others thought of you… the list goes on and on. Hey, we’ve all been there.
It can be easy to repress some of the dark times in your life, especially if they happened in your teens/early 20s. Why? Because you have more self-awareness than ever and you probably realize how you could have done things differently. If you’re anxious and dramatic like me, your brain likely reminds you of these things randomly as you crawl into bed at night, thus keeping you up worrying about that one time you gave your friend printed out lyrics to a Simple Plan song to show that you were mad at her. Good times.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll say this: every mistake is a lesson. You don’t learn as a child not to touch a hot stove until you get burned, right? The same is true with life. You find your soulmate by dating the WRONG people. You find the right job by doing jobs you HATE. Mistakes are a natural part of life! Next time you find yourself ruminating on a mistake from the past, think about all the ways that mistake led you to where you are today.
Learn to Let Go
I heard a rumor that it will be illegal to hold grudges in 2020. Okay, maybe I started that rumor… but you heard it here first, folks. A new decade is a perfect opportunity to let things go. If you are holding onto any resentment or grudges or pain or baggage, now is the time to accept the things you cannot change, acknowledge what you actually have control over, and let go of everything else.
I completely understand that this is easier said than done. As previously mentioned, to say you’ve gone through a lot in the last 10 years is the understatement of the decade. HOWEVER, a new decade marks a new start. You will always carry some baggage with you, especially if it’s trauma-related. But don’t let that stop you from propelling into 2020 with HOPE. Talk to someone, seek counseling, meditate, pray… whatever you need to do to get yourself ready to let go and find peace. Find comfort in knowing that this chapter in your story is about to be over and the next chapter is waiting to be written. (Whatup Natasha Bedingfield).
Finish Strong & Plan For the Next 10 Years
Just because there are only a few weeks left in 2019, doesn’t mean you can just give up until the clock strikes midnight. Did Cinderella give up and go home when she had a few more hours left before midnight? HELL NO. She went after her man! And that’s what you’re going to do to… except with your goals.
I’m serious. Don’t just say “ah, it’s fine, I’ll just wait until 2020 to figure it out. I’ll just coast until then.” False; it’s never too late for a fresh start.
Now is the time to start making an action plan. Take this time to assess what things will matter in your life in the next decade. Quit doing things that don’t make you happy. Stop working 100 hours a week. Spend more time with people you actually like. Do something spontaneous. Learn to say no. Learn to say yes. Whatever it takes to make this next decade the best one yet.
Back to the Marathon…
(Yes, you’ve been running this whole time… think about how many calories you’ve been burning while reading this!) With the finish line in sight, you pick up the pace. You see the numbers on the clock move quickly, so you do, too. You cross the finish line and look to see a new PR on the screen. You smile as your legs shake. It’s been a long journey, but in that moment it almost felt like you had just begun. You passed some people up along the way and some people passed you. You had to stop and catch your breath when you thought you couldn’t go on. And yet, you persevered. All the pain. All the internal struggle. All the moments of joy along the way. And you think to yourself: it was all worth it.
Happy New Year, friends. May the next decade be even better than the last.