As the 2010s come to an end, I cannot help but reflect back on how much has occurred in such a short amount of time.
We experienced the desperate need for progressive policy in a time of heightened conservatism. We saw great movements demanding social justice for all people. We felt incredible pain and suffering due to senseless violence and lack of compassion. We dealt with the growing consequences of climate change. We bid farewell to our favourite superhero and wizarding world characters. We witnessed iconic cultural moments and technological innovation. And we found joy in learning the importance to love ourselves. Overall, the past decade has been one of tremendous change in the world.
Personally, the 2010s have been a critical period of growth for me as I’ve gone from being 13 to 23 years of age. This decade has taught me a lot about life so here are the 10 things that I’ve learned during the past decade:
- Everything is temporary. Everything in life from relationships to pain and even happiness is all short-lived. We tend to live our lives forming attachments and expectations of how things should be but rarely is how life plays out. When our expectations are unmet, we’re consumed with sorrow, struggle to grapple with change, and begin to feel powerless against the forces of life. I’ve learned that in order to experience life wholly, deeply and completely, I can’t resist it, but rather let reality be reality. I’ve come to terms that both suffering and elation are temporary so it’s important to take things as it comes because it is what it is.
- Time doesn’t stop for anybody. One of the hardest things in life to deal with as you get older is how fast time flies. In a short period of time, one person can experience so much and not even get a chance to process it. It’s as though you blink and a whole six months go by where you’ve lost friends, gained new ones, found success, moved cities, and experienced heartbreak all at once. Life just bombards you with so much and no matter what you’re going through, no matter how tired you are, and no matter how much you want to savour the moment or go back to feel a few things again, time continues to move forward and doesn’t stop. I’ve learned that smelling the roses isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s vital to try and centre yourself to avoid feeling overwhelmed and actually be able to enjoy life.
- There is magic in the mundane. So many of us chase the extraordinary as life can become dull at times. We fall into a pattern of comfortability, compare ourselves with those who “have it all,” and become desensitized to the things around us due to the immense content we consume on social media. Life just becomes boring and unimpressive. We fail to see the joy in small things, humble places, simple moments, and consistent people. I’ve learned to look at ordinary things as complex worlds of their own because truly nothing is simple in this world. Everything has its own ecosystem or universe and it’s by looking at the mundane with wide eyes, we gain an appreciation for the world because it’s intricacy is truly beautiful.
- People are a product of their past. To build new relationships and foster old ones, it’s important to realize that people are complex beings that are moulded by their past experiences and are influenced by institutional structures, their intersectional identities, societal norms, and time period. In order to build meaningful relationships, we need to be cognizant of the fact that we all have comfort zones, triggers, traumas, and demons that we live with. It’s vital to understand that because of our varying pasts we are all very different in our thinking, doing, learning, reacting, and expressing. We can’t have expectations of how others should behave or feel because each and every human experience is unique and we live life through a curated, but ever-evolving lens. I’ve discovered that the key to cultivating healthy and meaningful relationships is to be understanding, empathetic, and present.
- We are toxic too. Growth is the product of self-reflection in which one changes their behaviours and thinking to be better. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that we like to point fingers at others, participate in “cancel” culture and pass the blame. However, there are many times that we are also a part of the problem, whether it be in our own lives or in society. We need to be mature enough to recognize that we all have toxic traits and that it’s not always the other person or society that’s the issue. Once we recognize that we aren’t perfect and that our actions also contribute to negative and unhealthy interactions, behaviours, and values, can we work on ourselves to be better.
- Life doesn’t owe you anything. Many of us believe that we deserve things from life because we’re good people or we worked hard or need to be rewarded compensation for the hardships we’ve been through. But in reality, life doesn’t owe us anything. We tend to feel entitled to have anything we want, but when we have a negative experience, lose something or someone we value, and fail to be awarded we feel victimized by life. We ignorantly see others living a “fulfilling life” with everything we don’t have and blame life for being unfair to us. However, we neglect the fact that that they too have had bad things happen to them. This “poor me” and “pity me” mentality is a recipe for a miserable existence. The feeling of victimization will be validated again and again as you will always be left disappointed with that perspective on life. It sounds harsh, but life doesn’t owe you perfect parents, good health, prosperity, comfort, joy, and exemption from pain and suffering. You are not owed a job, a roof over your head, a bed, or even a meal. You also are not owed generosity, love, recognition, apologies or anything else in that matter. You are not entitled to anything. It may suck, but by acknowledging and accepting that life owes you nothing means that every single thing you do have is a blessing. You may not be entitled to be owed anything, yet you are showered with blessings at every moment. You have shoes to walk in, a bed to sleep in, a spoon to eat from, a job that pays the bills, people who care about you, and good health that keeps you going. I’ve learned to recognize the truth about my life, which is that its not a cup that is half empty, but one that is overflowing.
- People come and go. As time goes on, people evolve and grow in different directions. Frankly, most relationships are not built to last a lifetime but instead meant only for that point in time because that’s who you needed. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are at that moment and know that not everyone is meant to be in my life forever nor I in there’s and that’s okay. Those who don’t prioritize you, accept you, support you, help you grow, and fulfill something within you, need to be let go. Eliminating negative and passive people from your life is a good thing so don’t hold on as you make space for someone else. With that said, it’s important to not fall into the trap of being filled with regret after as each relationship teaches you new things and has value.
- No one person can be your everything. To have an expectation that one individual should be able to fulfill all your needs is naive and impossible. No single human will ever be able to satisfy everything you require, whether that person is a parent, friend, sibling, partner, or child. It’s also silly to think we can be somebody else’s “everything” as well. We are all imperfect beings with inherent limitations, unique interests, and have a specific multitude of needs. The beauty of making connections is finding something that you share in common or can fulfill in another person like no other. While one person may provide you with emotional depth and feeling of safety, another may be the person who you can have a great laugh with or effortless conversation. Some people may challenge you professionally, while others will help you feel more spiritually connected. Each relationship brings its own value and magic to your life. These bonds that tether us to one another are authentic and powerful, thus should be cherished. Rather than placing pressure on the people in your life to be more for you or have unrealistic expectations walking into a new relationship, it’s important to remember that the “everything” you need comes from a diverse circle of people, not just one person. Making someone or something your “everything” sets you up to be disappointed but also doesn’t allow you to be self-sustained and fully-actualized. Your relationships need to be about two people who are whole on their own that choose to foster a connection to their enhance life.
- You have to do things you don’t want to. Sometimes in life, we have to do things we don’t want to do to get to where we want to be. There are things in life that are boring, pointless, draining, time-consuming, unnecessary, anxiety-inducing, and just plain annoying. However, we have to power through these things and get to the other side if we want to achieve our goals. The key to push through these things is motivation. Many people think that motivation is all about desire or anticipation, but in reality a lot of times it’s just finding a meaningful why. Avoiding a negative consequence, lowering your anxiety, gaining financial prosperity, or making a loved one happy, are just a few reasons to be motivated. I’ve learned over the years that being uncomfortable or annoyed is just a part of the journey.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder. As humans when we become comfortable, we tend to take things for granted and become unappreciative of our surroundings. It takes an absence from our surroundings to serve as a reminder as to how much we truly value the things we have become habituated to. I have realized that whenever there has been a distance in my life from what I consider my home, such as my family or city, I begin to see things much more clearly. I yearn and miss the small things. People naturally think things are greener on the other side because we romanticize new experiences, places and people, however, everything and everyone has its pros and cons. I’ve learned to dive deep into the relationships around me to really foster those bonds, to explore the cities I’m in and take in my surroundings completely so I maintain an appreciative heart always.
The past 10 years have been exciting and fun, but I could not be more ready to leave this decade behind. Here’s to the 2020s being a decade of wellness, innovation, and most of all, healing.