10-Year Challenge — An introspection of the decade that went by
The #10yearchallenge or #HowHardDidAgingHitYou has taken social media by a storm, with an insane number of photographs from the past re-surfacing across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While I do not find it astonishing that we have gone through some amount of physical changes in the last 10-Years, it did make me wonder what has changed in me as an individual.
Looking back, 2009 was the year I completed my high school and moved to college for the first time; so naïve and without a plan on getting anywhere near where I managed to reach in 2019. What started as a fun thought in my head went on to 5 bulleted point write-up. So here it goes, the 5 lessons I have learned in the last decade
1. Importance of chasing one’s own goals
Sure, from childhood, we have been taught to set goals, achieve them and then set the bar higher with every achievement we unlock. But often times than not, we give very little thought to what that goal should be. Many of my decisions in life in the past were just going along the flow with peers, what everyone was doing at that point in their lives. Their goals became mine. I would get there only for me to realize that was not what I wanted in the first place. Life is too short to chase anyone else’s goals but yours. It is hard, but worth it to find out what you truly want in your life.
2. Many of the best relationships are time-bound
As hard as this was to digest, several of the best of relationships fade over time. It is hard to believe that someone you connect with at such a deeply personal level just phases away in most cases with no closure. You could hold onto it, drag it unceremoniously longer. I have allowed myself to be dragged down this road several times and it is not fun. The best thing to do is accept it, let it go and move on. Do not look back cynically, cherish the best of memories that were good while they lasted.
3. The art of saying NO
I have not been the smartest child in class survival-wise socially, not in school, not in college. A lot of my adolescent years went by in being a part of things I had no interest in. I never could say no. I would never speak up, never stand up for things I believed in and have allowed circumstances to take control of most parts of my life. But the social acceptance brownie points are not worth the struggle you end up facing within yourself being involved in things just because of peer pressure. Learning to say NO to things that were not right for me was one of the biggest takeaways I have had in the last decade. It meant lesser battles with self and much more authentic relationships on the social front.
4. Pick your battles
Life is not exactly a smooth ride and it is tumultuous at best. It is not enough to just keep yourself together in good times, that is easy. No, the true strength of endurance comes when we strive to fight back in the toughest of times. But that does not mean we fight every single battle that comes our way. There are some fights that we can bypass. I have realized that certain values are core to my existence and as long as they are untouched, I let some battles remain unfinished. Instead, stock up on the strength to fight the big ones, I have not regretted it yet.
5. Just because it went wrong once, it does not mean it will happen again
This one for me has been life-altering. I remember to this date when in school, I had to read out something in front of the whole assembly and I stammered to no end and made a complete fool of myself in front of well, the whole school. I was mortified beyond understanding. I swore never to take up the microphone again. I built a lovely tale and a character trait around it. I told myself I am an introvert. I converse better in smaller audiences and do not connect in larger audiences. I lived by the story for a majority of the 10 year period. Until, one day, I decided before a corporate presentation at work that I am no longer that girl. Guess what, I never was. I am still not the best orator in town, but the fear is out of the system for good. We have a tendency of boxing ourselves to an identity out of the smallest and silliest of situations. That day taught me I no longer had to fear that inconsequential event that happened years ago.
We evolve, every day, physically and as an individual. As you scroll through your photos from 10-Years ago, reminisce the good memories, look back at how far you have come along. Remember the things that made you stronger today without regret. For you would not be where you are today if not for those bumps along the journey.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard