10 Things I Learned in the 2010s

For me, the 2010s have been my coming-of-age story. My rite of passage into adulthood, and the years that have brought me, among other things, the first great love and loss of my life. And as I sit in my first real apartment with its drafty windows and chipped paint on the ceiling, I’m marveling at how much I’ve lived and loved, and learned all along the way. 

  1. 1. Celebrate your victories.

    The 2010s have been a decade of victories. Between the landmark Supreme Court ruling that gave us marriage equality, to the first female presidential nominee to win the popular vote, the last 10 years have brought us some amazing, inspiring moments. 

    I’m a first-generation college student living on her own for the first time, and although there is a lot of fear in that, there is also cause for celebration. No matter how insignificant they may seem, all victories are worth being proud of yourself. 

  2. 2.  Mourn your losses.

    Where there is laughter, there is also sorrow. We are living in troubled times, and it seems as if everyone is angry all the time. Division is more powerful than ever, and the news has become a battleground.

    We have also mourned for some of the biggest names in pop culture over the past decade, from artists to activists to otherworldly thinkers.  

    It’s important to mourn your losses, because they make you who you are. And although it’s hard, whether you failed at something or lost a loved one, but there is hope in grief.

  3. 3.  Take care of yourself.

    If for nothing else, this decade will be remembered for the “wellness” boom. Self-care has become an increasingly popular buzzword, especially as a marketing tool for women’s products. Still, whether you’re here for the capitalizing of self-care, it’s important to exercise self-care in whatever way it exists for you. 

    Writing is how I do that most often, but finding something that makes me laugh is more cathartic than nearly anything else I can do for myself. 

  4. 4. There is power in community.

    From a resurgence of community and national activism all over the country to the evolution of digital communities, there is enormous power in people. The Black Lives Matter movement, which has united Black activists all over the United States, was born online. 

    As a sad girl in my early teens, I found happiness in online communities, and learned how to connect with people on an intimate level in a way that I wasn’t able to do with people IRL.

  5. 5.  Fight for what you believe is right.

    If there’s something powerful about community, it is because they organize over a common desire to establish change. We watched dozens upon dozens of women and men across multiple industries coming forward with accusations of assault and harassment from some of the most powerful people in the country. We watched a sexual assault survivor sit in front of a panel of senators as they voted to confirm her attacker to the Supreme Court. 

    Fighting is necessary when it is for an important cause. 

    As a sexual assault survivor myself, it was incredibly difficult but ultimately quite helpful to experience the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements building on social media and stretching all over the world.

  6. 6. Take control of the narrative.

    Learning how to make the best of your given place in society is something that hundreds of people have done throughout the last 10 years. From activists to artists to ordinary people all over the internet, people are fighting back against the limitations and margins placed on them and saying “absolutely not today”.

  7. 7. Love endlessly.

    I remember the first time I watched “Frozen.” As the sisters hug each other after saving each other’s lives, I sobbed along with nearly every seven year old in the theater. 

    Arguably the most important lesson I’m taking with me from this decade is to love hard - love yourself, love your family, love your friends.

    Tell the people you love that you love them. 

  8. 8.  If there’s no path to where you want to go, create one.

    If becoming an adult (sort of) has taught me anything, it’s that the world is not built the way we’ve been taught. Not everyone gets to succeed, and those who don’t succeed are not lazy, unmotivated or untalented. They’re often disadvantaged. 

    While college is important for those who attend, it is not the only way to be successful. There is no linear path to success, and it truly is in the eye of the beholder. Going your own way, even when other people are going the same way, is not a weakness -- it’s a strength. We are all on this journey together. Do what you need to do, but do what you love above all.

  9. 9. Never settle.

    This is something a teacher of mine wrote in the high school yearbook, and something that I’ve tried to live by. It’s tough, especially when considering many people do not have the option (as I do in many cases) to not settle for something they don’t want to do. 

    However, if something or someone is not giving you the respect you deserve, do not settle for it. There is only one life, and it’s important to live it, not endure it.

  10. 10. Falling in love with your life is the key.

    There is something about sitting in a sunlit room, listening to my favorite songs, and flipping through a magazine that brings me an incredible sense of peace. Although it’s not much, finding a way to love what you do is important to finding happiness. 

    Having a routine that suits your lifestyle. Finding time to laugh and spend time with the people you love. Thanking service workers when you use their services. All of these things have helped me fall in love with my life, even when it’s horrible. 

Cheers to the next decade!