In a mere 27.5 hours, the entire world will turn over the page to a new year AND a new decade. A new year always brings with it promise, hope, excitement to set new goals and the motivation to step outside our comfort zones. The New Year always inspires me to realign myself with my priorities, to get organized, and to begin to create a vision for how I want to approach the next year. With the comeback of the roaring 20s, I want to embrace the fun moniker of having “2020 Vision” and damn, do I have some big dreams for this coming year.
If you know me well, you’ll know that if you ask me what my New Years’ resolutions are, I will likely reply with some version of, “I don’t set New Years’ Resolutions.” Now please don’t be mistaken, I am not vehemently against resolutioners, I welcome people who want to set goals and try new things. I am all for people who are aiming for personal growth and I will be right here cheering you on. But I don’t believe that the calendar has to read January 1st for you to be inspired to take action towards a goal that you set for yourself. However, I do love to use this time of year to pause and reflect. I like to take note of what I’ve achieved in the year, how I have grown, and set forth with identifying my dreams for what’s to come. Because this is the ending of a decade, I want to share with you 10 things I learned during the 2010s, as well as a few things I want to carry with me into 2020.
1) Who you are at 17 will not define you for the rest of your life
It seems so silly typing these words as a 27 year old woman because it is so obviously true. I look back on the 17 year old girl who entered 2010 thinking that the biggest thing that would happen that year was graduating high school and starting college. I would FINALLY shed the dorky persona I had carried with me throughout my 12 years of school and become the cool, sexy, confident woman I was meant to be as soon as I stepped foot on my college campus. But as I entered my college years, I often struggled with still seeing myself as the timid, undesirable girl that I thought that I was as a child. It’s funny because your perception of yourself forms during these years and some people never move past it. They fail to see how much they have grown and changed because they are absolutely trapped in this short stage of their life. I am thankful for that 17 year old girl, just as much as I am thankful for the 22 year old who became the 27 year old woman writing this blog. Every single moment along the way helped shape who I am today and for the first time in my life, I can actually say that I love myself. I did not love myself at 17, but I am immensely thankful that I learned how to.
2) You are going to get your heart broken. You will find love again.
My first real boyfriend whom I met at the age of 19 broke my heart 3 and 1/2 years later at the age of 22. But from that relationship, I learned to not let myself be a doormat to be walked all over. I could and should stand up for myself and be my own advocate. The second major heartbreak came at the age of 25 when the person I thought I would spend forever with told me that our whole relationship wasn’t what I thought it was. This one taught me so much about myself that I will pour into a future post, but I learned that I am whole and complete all on my own and I am in control of my own happiness. There were smaller heartbreaks along the way, but every single one of them led me to where I am today: sitting on the couch, next to the man I love in the apartment that we share together, chasing my dream of writing all because it brings me joy. We just spent the evening walking around our apartment complex talking about our goals and dreams for the future and how we were going to chase them together. And for every heartbreak I ever experienced, I can honestly say that it was worth every single tear I shed for the beautiful moments I have now.
3) What you want to do for the rest of your life may not work out exactly how you pictured it. But it’ll turn out better than you ever imagined.
When I walked into freshman orientation at college, a counselor asked me, “What do you want to major in?” I immediately had an answer: physical therapy. “Ok. But you have to start with studying exercise physiology and then go on to get your Doctorate in Physical Therapy in grad school.” And from that moment on, I studied exercise physiology. I never changed my major during my 4 years of college, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Until my junior year of college. During this year, I experienced a pivotal point in my life and I decided that medical school was my calling. After working tirelessly to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, I failed to get the score that I needed on my MCAT exam to be accepted into medical school. In a moment, the image of who I thought I would become was shattered. I was devastated. It had all been a waste. What was I going to do now? I spent a few years pursuing a career in the fitness industry, the closest I could get to what I had actually studied. I was determined that I had not spent 4 years of my life getting this degree for nothing. Until I reached my second or third job out of college and realized I was deviating further and further from the path I had set out on, but not gaining skills that were truly applicable to building a career. Most importantly, I just wasn’t happy. I was lost and confused and had no idea what my career was going to become. Until the opportunity presented itself to return to the family business, the very future I had gone to college to avoid. And in returning to this business, I have found my true passion, my calling. It has definitely not been all rainbows and butterflies, but it has taught me so much more than I ever imagined was possible and I’m more fulfilled than I’ve ever been in any job. Did it work out the way I thought? Hell no. It’s even better.
4) Setting a timeline for your life is simply a waste of time
If you asked my freshly graduated college self what my late twenties would look like, I would have told you that I would be sitting pretty in my medical residency with an adorable husband and a couple of kids. I would have the house with the picket fence and the nice car to drive and I would be the walking embodiment of the American Dream. See number 3 about things not working out as planned, but to a further point, having some strict timeline about how your life is going to unfold is quite frankly robbing yourself of becoming who you are supposed to be. While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals and things that you aspire towards, being rigidly strict about when they happen will only steal your joy. This one is really tough because, especially as a woman, society puts pressure on you to hit milestones by a certain point and if you haven’t, it makes you feel like you failed (another topic I will dive into deeper in another post because it is something I am truly passionate about). You are not a failure if you are not married at 25. You are not behind if you don’t have kids by 30. Each person is on their own path and your focus should be on your growth and becoming the best version of yourself, not on checking off boxes on your list of things to do. Because guess what, you can have all of those things and STILL not be happy. Which brings me to my next point…
5) Happiness is not a destination, it is a mindset
If you asked me during these years if I was happy, I would probably say “well, I will be when I get a boyfriend.” Or “as soon as I have my own place.” What it took me nearly 10 years to learn is that happiness is not something that is acquired because of some outside thing or accomplishment or person. I don’t mean that if you’re in a hard season of life that you can just plaster on a fake smile and pretend everything is okay and call that happiness. That’s just not being genuine and honest to the human experience. But you CAN find things to be grateful for. You can find joy in the mundane moments. You can choose to look at things more positively. And nothing or no one is responsible for your own happiness. Everything you need to be a happy person is already within you, you just have to learn how to tap into it.
6) You don’t have to have all of the answers. You do have to take action.
Most people don’t really enjoy making mistakes. No one likes to fail regularly. So I spent a lot of time in a variety of situations overthinking, researching, looking at things from every angle so that I wouldn’t take a misstep and fall flat on my face. To put it in a fun term, I was the queen of getting stuck in the “analysis paralysis.” I would think and think and think about something, but I would never actually DO anything. Damn, if I had taken a leap and just tried in a number of those situations, I would have probably accomplished so much more in this decade. Maybe that decision wouldn’t have been the right one per se, but I would have learned a hell of a lot from it. It’s not a bad idea to use common sense and put some thought behind things, but don’t get stuck there too long. Because sometimes you’re meant to take that risk, it will either turn out to be a blessing or a lesson and both of those things are valuable.
7) Friendships in your life will evolve over time. Embrace it.
Some friendships last a lifetime, from a young age all the way through your many milestones in life. These friendships are beautiful and should be cherished. But some friendships are only meant to be held close during a certain period of your life. You are a dynamic being. You are not meant to be the same person you were a few years ago, you should honestly hope that you are not. Everyone is meant to grow through the things they experience and sometimes that means that you will grow apart from people. This doesn’t mean that you have to hate them; you can love these people from afar and still hope for the best for them. Do not be afraid to choose your growth and find the people who are growing with you. You will also find that you tend to value having fewer friendships that are closer and deeper than having a million friends. Quality is better than quantity.
8) Comparison is the thief of joy
In these past 10 years, social media has become an absolute force in our society. Nothing exists if it is not on social media. There are some amazing things about this tool; we’re more connected, more inspired, and more in tune than ever before. But with it comes the green eyed monster of jealousy. It’s easy to look at social media and think that that is real life. If you are not vigilant, you will get sucked into a spiral of thinking your life is imperfect. Here’s the truth: NO ONE has a perfect life, even if you are Beyoncé. Social media is the highlight reel ,but you can’t tell from it if someone is genuinely happy. You don’t know what they look like without makeup and photoshop. All those cute romantic couples photos? Maybe their relationship doesn’t look so cute behind closed doors. If you let it, you will be consumed with comparing your behind the scenes to someone else’s front and center and you will end up missing out on all that is good in your own life. And honestly even if it feels like your life is just a beautiful mess, you should focus on the fact that it is still beautiful.
9) Life sometimes hands you things that you could never possibly imagine. But you are also stronger than you ever thought you could be.
I will only touch on this briefly here as another entire post, hell an entire blog, can ( and will at some point) be dedicated to this one item on the list. This decade, I lost both of my parents. I experienced unimaginable grief and I unfortunately walked through this grief at a young age. I didn’t know how to carry it, it was impossibly heavy. But I was faced with something that I had no control over, that I couldn’t understand. I fumbled this heavy burden many a time. It’s taken nearly 10 years since my father’s passing and this nightmare began to truly understand how to hold this grief. But in many a moment, I heard the words “I don’t know how you’re still functioning.” Well, the answer to that was always simple; you never know what you are capable of until you are faced with something so insurmountable as the death of someone you love. You’re right, until it happened, I could never imagine a life without my parents in it. And honestly there are some days where I still can’t. But through this, I have learned I am more resilient and a hell of a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be. Do not doubt what you are capable of, you will often surprise yourself when presented with the impossible.
10) Never stop growing and never stop dreaming
10 years has brought me a lot of things, but the biggest and best thing is the discovery of how exciting it is to grow. Sometimes growth happens without you realizing it, but when you chase that growth, it becomes something so much better. We all had dreams when we were young and the world seemed like it was wide open. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING was possible. The sky was the limit! What did you want to be when you were little? I told you in my first blog post that I always wanted to be a writer. I held that dream in my heart for many years and then I let it fade out. But here I am in 2019, a writer. It may not be my day job, but it is something that lights my soul on fire and that is worth more than any dollar amount added to my bank account. Your dreams that you have are yours for a reason and every day is a chance to become the person that you are meant to be. Do not fight it. Embrace it. The world needs you to be who you are supposed to become.
As the 2010s fade into the roaring 20s, I hope that you are filled with joy and excitement. I personally am excited to bring with me into 2020 all of the lessons that I have learned along the way and I am approaching the new decade with an open heart to continue becoming a woman that I am proud of. In the new decade, I will be more intentional with my priorities. I will be more present in moments that are important. I will chase new challenges that will teach me what I need to learn. I will focus a little less on things that I think I can’t do and instead say “why not me?” I know that who I am and what I am doing matters because someone out there needs to hear my story. And in honor of the rebirth of the 20s, I leave you with the following words from my favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things that you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”