‘Decade’ is a big word. Not in the literal sense; six letters don’t make it grand. No. It’s that time-doesn’t-feel-like-time-in-the-moment scheme, the cross between two major questions (what have I accomplished? and what’s to come?), and the unbelievable sense of urgency that surfaces when you realize that soon, ten years of living are coming to an end.
The power of a decade strikes in its final moments. You reach the end of a literal era, often by way of an intense verbal and communal countdown, and you’re affronted with a mandatory review. Who were you? Who are you? What’s changed? And, maybe most importantly, are you happy with who you have become?
When I post my side-by-side photos of 2009 and 2019 me, the results are profoundly different. This is no surprise. I was a teenager then, went through puberty, and literally grew up. My transition is no different than every other person on earth who had the opportunity to go from adolescent to adult over the span of a decade.
Still, I like to share. It’s fun. It’s cathartic. It’s also a little bit of a brag. After all, I’m human, and allowed to have a few moments of indulged vanity.
It’s the looking forward part, though, that gives me pause.
The last batch of years have been generous to me in such a way that I’m anxious about what’s to come. I have an assortment of achievements and life events that I wear with pride. Just listen to this curated list: I moved away from home, ran a newspaper, got eyebrows, graduated college, started a new career, moved to a new city, married the love of my life, and have traveled.
How can I follow that?
I’ve crammed so many amazing things onto my personal resume, I’m wondering what else there’s room for. I have a competitive side, too, and secretly my strongest fear (besides mountain lions and mice and sex trafficking) is an underlying suspicion that I won’t be able to top what I’ve already done.
I guess it’s time to manifest what I want for myself. My plan, though pretty unoriginal, is simple: never stay still.
In ten years, when I review my life, I won’t be able to rely on the powers of puberty to showcase what’s changed. I will, however, do what it takes to grow. Maybe it will be in big, showy ways, or perhaps it will be nuanced measures that no one will notice except me. But I’ll get there by moving forward, embracing change, asking if the status quo is enough, shirking my comfort zone, and saying yes to new opportunities.
The twenties are about leaving stagnation in the past. Moving forward, I refuse to stay still. A decade may be big, but I will be bigger.