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A lesson for every year of the decade

At the start of this decade I was 19 going on 20. Now, I am a newly minted 30. The sprinting growth and leaps of faith that being 20-something require make life joyful and terrifying. In my 20s, I spent most of my time figuring out my career and building a healthy mental and spiritual foundation. It has been an arduous and satisfying journey becoming whoever I’ll be at the end of the next decade. Beginnings are always a wonderful time for reflection, so I have decided to create a list of 10 major lessons I learned over the last 10 years.

  1. 2010: I studied abroad in London and traveled to Paris the summer before my senior year of college. It was the most eye-opening experience of my life because I realized how isolated we are in America. It had never occurred to me that we weren’t all watching the same TV shows and listening to the same music until I went abroad. It opened my eyes to how big the world is and gave me a zest for seeing all of it.
  2. 2011: Graduation is a first step, not a final one. I spent four years earning two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia in theater and magazine journalism. Like most students who go to college, I worked my whole life to graduate and I thought things would magically fall into place once it happened. The truth is that things do eventually fall into place, it just takes about a decade.
  3. 2012: Fear is the killer of all dreams. From the time I was 17 years old, I dreamed of moving to Manhattan. I had visions of me with a girl tribe a la Sex and the City drinking frapps from Starbucks. When I graduated from grad school, I thought I’d move to New York, but I didn’t because I was afraid. I wanted to have a certain salary, secured apartment without roommates, enough money to store a car, and all of these other false securities. I put so many conditions on it that I wound up moving back to Atlanta wondering what it would have been like if I had been bold. Sometimes, the lessons we learn are from the life we never led. Regrets are real and it’s okay to have them, you just can’t be weighed down them. And you should know, that grace can fill in the holes that regret leaves behind.
  4. 2013: This year was the beginning of my spiritual journey. It’s when I discovered Brene Brown, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Tony Robins, and all of the other spiritual thought leaders that Oprah now interviews on Super Soul Sunday. I found that the readings, teachings and programs I engaged with during this time gave me a spiritual foundation for endurance as well as closer relationship with Christ. The thing that they all have in common is that your thoughts and beliefs shape your life experiences. Some people find God in church, and that’s fine, but to quote the late Ntozake Shange, “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.”
  5. 2014: Your parents don’t need to be okay in order for you to be okay. The umbilical cord was cut at birth, which means that what another person eats does not make you shit.
  6. 2015: Dating is as fun as you make it. Relationships are built from the inside out. At the end of 2014, a friend created a Tinder account for me and I also declared 2015 my year to saying yes to going out with any man who asked. I did not prioritize dating in my 20s, but at the time I was trying something new. None of the people I met on dating apps or at happy hours led to longterm relationships, but I met some great guys and got to know how I show up (and don’t show up) in courtship. This was a valuable year for me and I’m grateful for it.
  7. 2016: I job-hopped a lot during the last decade– six full-time jobs in seven years to be exact. I met some great people and learned a lot, but flailing about also led me to endure more than I should have. I’ve been yelled at in meetings, passed over for promotions, dog-piled with more work than colleagues who made more money than me, lied on, bad mouthed, etc. When you don’t know your worth, other people will treat you like you don’t know your worth. I stayed in situations that I knew weren’t right because I valued being able to say I was employed more than I valued myself. I’m glad that phase of my life is over.
  8. 2017: What you resist persists. I feel like 2017 was the year I had to re-learn all of the lessons from the previous years. Life has a way of sending reinforcements, usually all at once.
  9. 2018: It’s love that needs tending to– not work. People talk about work-life balance like it’s something that’s impossible, or somehow just shows up one day. It takes work to break the habits that led to the imbalance, yet too many people give up on forming new habits just when they’re on the verge of victory. It is a worthy effort to commit ourselves to joy. Our time on this earth is best spent creating connections and loving each other.
  10. 2019: I had to learn to trust my talent and abilities to carry me where they could. In our 20s especially, I think we spend so much time trying to prove that we’re good at anything that we forget that we’re good at a lot of things. Everything cannot and should not get 200% effort. It’s okay to take advantage of what comes easily to you.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Crystal Jackson

    Awesome! I love it!

  2. Dominique Fikar

    Beautiful read. It’s really amazing to have a written record of your own reflections every decade. Not sure you will keep this going but I loved reading it.

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