Saying goodbye to the decade means facing ten years’ worth of ups and downs

Saying goodbye to the decade means facing ten years’ worth of ups and downs

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Art by Neal P. Corpus

 

We are on the cusp of a new decade. In just two short weeks, the year will be 2020, and the world as it is today will change forever. Well, probably not. In fact, I’m pretty sure it won’t. This anticipation, this weird mix of nostalgia and panic that everyone is feeling about the end of the decade, is probably the same feeling that people our age in 1999 felt. Back then, 2000 was highly-anticipated by just about every human being on the planet. Will the computers crash? Will the world fall apart? When the clock struck 12 on January 1st, and everyone collectively held their breaths in case the world ended, nothing really happened. And that’s probably still the same today.

But that’s the world we’re talking about. In the grander scheme of things, minute details don’t really matter that much. Our individual turmoils and introspections about the upcoming new year may seem like such a big deal to us, but to the world, it’s really just another full circle around the sun. But when one thinks about the fact that 10 years have passed since Nicki Minaj released Super Bass, or when Avatar was the talk of the town, one (Read: me) ought to have a little bit of an existential crisis. 

Rewind to 2009: I am an awkward freshman trying to find her place in a high school where everyone was better than me. I always thought that I was smart, but man, Pisay was a big slap on my prepubescent face. Studying an advanced curriculum when you’re a hormonal teenager who’s suddenly living six hours away from your parents was practically hell. Suffice to say, I was not having the time of my life. 

Present day: I am working in the publishing industry, where jobs are hard to get by. I get to do what I love and get paid for it. I meet a lot of creative people who inspire me to do better. I have no dependents, no unrequited loves or archnemeses. I don’t get hangovers no matter how much alcohol I drink. Most days, I feel like I am having the time of my life. 

 

As the decade comes to a close, it hits me that the life I am living right now used to be just a goal — an item on a checklist that I wanted to work on. Here I am, at the very point where I targeted all my career and life decisions — in the bullseye, so to speak. And yet, I feel like I am floating in limbo.

 

As the decade comes to a close, it hits me that the life I am living right now used to be just a goal — an item on a checklist that I wanted to work on. Here I am, at the very point where I targeted all my career and life decisions — in the bullseye, so to speak. And yet, I feel like I am floating in limbo.

I’ve always felt this existential dread after achieving certain goals, and this time, it comes in the form of a crossroad that I did not expect to see once I got here. “What’s next?” is the inevitable follow up, but my brain can’t seem to conjure up an answer to that question. In a world where time is of the essence, and the trade-off to taking a break is a missed deadline or opportunity, it’s hard not to think that life is really just a never ending cycle of goal setting and achieving. 

Existential crisis aside, 2019 was actually the first year in a long time that I truly felt happy. I have come so far from being that 13-year-old who’s only worries was an upcoming exam in Algebra and if my crush would text me back. I have lived through grief after my father’s death. I have lived through years of depression. I have lived after I tried to die. I am here right now, right where I want to be, and I am really, truly happy.

I feel the need to pause right here and type in a *sigh* as if this was a tweet that I would share with my 65 followers. Coursing through 10 years of my life — all my learnings and mishaps, the people who came and went, my failures and achievements — brings in a sort of catharsis.

 

In a world where time is of the essence, and the trade-off to taking a break is a missed deadline or opportunity, it’s hard not to think that life is really just a never ending cycle of goal setting and achieving.

 

We never really notice the passing of time until it’s suddenly ten years later. When we thread through every single day with such fervor, as if our lives have deadlines (which, technically, there is), we never really stop and smell the flowers. It’s always about finishing a task and moving on to the next one. About getting through a day, no matter how bright and sunny or dark and bleak it is — and then we sleep and wake up again. The sun sets and rises. The cycle continues.

Ten years from now, I’d probably read this essay again and cringe at the person that I am right now. I can only hope that my future self is someone that my 23-year-old and 13-year-old self would be proud of. But until then, all I can ever do is make it out through each day of the future. Here’s to the next decade.

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#essay #opinion #self

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