“I guess when it comes down to it, being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up. These are the best days of our lives. The only thing that matters is just following your heart and eventually you’ll finally get it right.” – The Ataris, In This Diary
When I turned 20 years old, roughly three weeks ago, I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I’d had with a friend in the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day 2010. As we discussed the beginning of a brand new decade, it had only just begun to hit me that this decade would be different from any other that I had experienced — it would present with it new opportunities and challenges that I had never before encountered, and probably require more self-growth than I’d ever undergone in my life. I then began to evaluate every decade I’d lived through thus far.
Born in September of 1990, I was alive for most of the 90s (if only as an embryo for the remaining nine months), but my memories from then are somewhat blurred. My life consisted mostly of Disney princesses, Barbie dolls, Spice Girls music and boys with cooties. Even back then, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but my dreams were fuzzier than my curly brown hair; in other words, I would have just as easily settled for becoming Belle or Posh Spice. I associate the 90s with my childhood – a more innocent and carefree time.
In fact, it wasn’t until the new millennium that I was exposed to some of the world’s harsh realities. For me and many of my peers, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 made us question everything we ever thought we knew about human nature, and opened our eyes to the fact that life wasn’t the fairy tale we’d always been told it was. The economy took a nosedive soon after, and in turn we witnessed various other forms of human greed and suffering throughout the world. This wasn’t to say that these things hadn’t happened long before, but we were finally old enough to comprehend what was going on around us.
The decade also brought with it the preteen and teenage years. It was a time of mean middle school girls and the mean middle school boys who broke our hearts before we ever really knew what that meant. It was also a time of insecurities and awkward encounters and frustrations. I moved on to high school in 2005, where dances and parties and football games made you cool, and hearts were broken on Spirit Week. As I floated around between cliques and juggled cheerleading and yearbook, I struggled to find a sense of identity, and never entirely embraced those four years.
In May 2009, I graduated high school and hurried off to college, which was a nice little beginning and ending all at once. Flash forward 17 months, and here we are. It’s October 2010, I’m a sophomore in college and I have my whole life ahead of me. So, what’s next?
I’d like to think that, as I spend the remainder of the 2010s in my twenties, I will be focused on finishing my education, obtaining a career I really enjoy, eventually finding the love of my life and maybe even starting a family. Of course, life doesn’t always pan out the way you expect it to, and so who’s to say that any of this would become a reality?
In fact, ABC has a new show called My Generation, which is a mockumentary zeroing in on nine people from the graduating class of 2000 and revisiting them in 2010. Obviously, this is just a show, but it’s interesting to see how current events and life experiences changed each of the characters over the course of 10 years. It’s important to be flexible in your expectations for the future, but shows like this make me wonder just how much my environment will shape my goals and decisions in the years to come.
Although I don’t know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, I do have a basic mental outline, and can’t help but ask myself how I will adjust if things don’t go accordingly. What if laws change, or people change, or some completely unforeseen incident changes everything I have ever known? Do we try to hold onto what’s left, or do we pick up the pieces and move on? Will those events change us?
I hope to look to this new decade as a bright new beginning – a future that offers several different roads to happiness and success, regardless of what those words mean to me in ten years – and I wish the same for you.