Another decade marked off my personal timeline and this one included a tremendous amount of pain, growth, setbacks, happiness, triumph, frustration, and wisdom.
When I look back at my previous decade – from age ten through nineteen – I was naïve and reactionary to the world. There was a path set out for me and I followed that path. Get through school, play sports, participate in extra-curricular activities, and go along with whatever the family planned.
In 2005, I waved goodbye to that adolescent decade in a bar taking shots with friends, celebrating another year closer to my 21st birthday – which was at the time the pinnacle of all birthdays.
Unbeknownst to me, this decade – where my age began with the number two – was going to matter more than I could ever imagine. A plethora of happy memories are what first come to mind when looking back from May of 2005 through May of 2015. I partook in some amazing experiences, created some great relationships, and accomplished some hard-to-reach goals.
Poor decisions, burnt bridges, arrogance, heartbreak, stubbornness, and flat-out stupidity also created defining moments in this last decade. I accomplished some major life goals only to experience that those goals weren’t right for my future plans. I experienced a tremendous amount of mental turmoil trying to fit in with societal and cultural expectations, to find a lifelong career, to be someone who’s important, and to make others proud. Luckily, this decade consisted of only a few injuries and major incidents involving my physical body, however, I did experience tragedies by mourning some friends and family members. One of the major life lessons learned was that life will never stop throwing curveballs.
Now, another decade begins and I choose to say, “Bring it on!”
I feel more comfortable in my own skin and mature enough to understand what’s truly important to me. My insecure mind in my twenties could not say that. Living for ten more years shifted my perspective which makes me look back at my twenties with nostalgia, yet, I’m happy to wave goodbye to this personal decade.
A Fond Farewell
My new decade crept up on me which inspired me to reflect on the importance of my twenties. I wrote in a journal to document my experiences as a twenty-something (while in an isolated cabin to unplug, which I highly recommend), I wrote this article to help others learn from what I learned from this last decade, and I prepared myself to become a thirty-year old.
A weekend before my birthday proved that I was ready to welcome this new decade with an excited fist-pump! All of my struggles, mistakes, setbacks, and challenges get too much prime time in my mind. I intentionally work on practicing gratefulness daily and celebrating my wins to help reprogram my habits.
Being grateful came easy this specific weekend. We went out to dinner to celebrate my fiancée recently completing a very difficult class but that was only half-true. Towards the end of dinner, a familiar face, my mom, greeted me at the table which made me initially think, “Why didn’t she tell me she was coming to Denver?!” My only response to her was, “Why are you here?” I then saw the smiling faces of my dad and my sister which made me understand that they were here for me.
They pulled off a successful surprise and we made plans to visit Boulder the next day. We enjoyed being a family in Colorado. We ventured back as we already had plans to have dinner at my fiancée’s parent’s house.
My fiancée and I parked the car, entered the house, and turned a corner to see a touching surprise party to celebrate my upcoming birthday. My smile couldn’t be wiped away and it was truly a touching experience.
During the surprise party, I excused myself a few times to just be alone with my own thoughts and I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed thinking how lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life. Pure gratitude and appreciation flooded my mindset and it felt good. No negative thoughts deserved any prime time this night!
This weekend before my birthday stands out as one of the best weekends yet. It gave me the confidence to say: BRING ON THIS NEW DECADE TO CREATE MORE WONDERFUL MEMORIES, PUSH THROUGH THE BAD DAYS, AND CONTRIBUTE TO OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES.
To Look Back
It’s time close this chapter on a hopefully long book of my life. And to do this in my own fashion I choose to share some advice which I wish I took to heart when I began this last personal decade.
Maybe these phrases will help you with your own perspective or you have a contact who is about to enter his/her twenties.
Thirty Phrases for My Twenty Year-Old Self
Focus on who you are, not who you aren’t
Listen to others before speaking
Different strokes for different folks
Rejection happens more than you expect
It’s better to be proactive
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Pursue what animates you
Live your eulogy, not your résumé (you never know if this might happen sooner than you hope)
Courtesy goes a long way
Own the relationships in your life
Be an efficient hard-worker
When in a rut, find a way to smile and laugh
Do activities out of your routine
Define your own version of success
Give others benefit of the doubt
Love the people close to you
Take care of your responsibilities
Be okay with just your thoughts
Exercise and stop eating junk food
Invest in experiences rather than gizmos
Celebrate your wins and accomplishments
Cut yourself slack
You’re rarely good at things first-try
Don’t fret over things out of your control
Never stop learning
Help when you’re able
Everyone’s figuring it out
Plan for the future while having fun today
Be the type of person you want to meet
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