It’s strange, but I’ve already begun writing 2010 on some things. Thinking about the end of a year, and another chance at starting over. And it is strange to think about it being an end of a decade, and what will it be known for, how I will define the 2000s.
This was the decade of 9/11. Iraq. iPods. George W. Bush. Afghanistan. This was the decade of the World Wide Web. Of globalization and 3-ounce bottles on airplanes. Of Google, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. Of proving wrong the science fiction of the 70s and 80s, or far outstripping it. This was the decade of celebrity obsessions, comic-book movies, Ritalin. The decade where climate change became real and that both Darfur and Fallujah could be located on a map. The decade where we learned new vocabulary: terrorism, crunk, celebutante, to Google, truthiness. This was the decade that defined my generation’s youth.
For me specifically, this decade has been about college – being in it, preparing for it, worrying about not getting in, fitting in, doing what’s right, learning what’s wrong. A decade of failed New Year’s Resolutions. Of autism, AIESEC, volleyball, learning to love sweet tea. Faking it ’til I make it. A decade of traveling, learning, and hoping to become my own person. It’s been about becoming independent, accepting change. Wanting change. A decade of defining, preparing for deciding.
Ten years ago, I was 12. I watched fireworks explode over the Wabash River with my family, I remember my grandfather worrying about Y2K – he had stocked up on food, bottled water. My family jokingly got him a crank-up flashlight that year for Christmas. I think that I might have been wearing a puffy vest, and I wanted to be a doctor. My hair hadn’t started curling yet, and I wanted to dye it brown because I hated being different. I can’t remember any resolutions that I made, which tells you how much I accomplished. I don’t think I could have pointed out Syria on a map, let alone imagine I might be living there.
What is to come in the next decade? How will it be defined?
I don’t know. I can only hope for things. Like learning how to be a real-life grown-up. A career. Continuing to travel, stumble upon adventures, learn new languages, expect the unexpected. Watching my family grow and my friends succeed. Building and maintaining. Learning to make the perfect kibbeh, koshary, tikka masala, fatteh, couscous, barbecue, and always having someone to share it with. Living up to what I urged my fellow graduates to do. Taking on challenges, accepting failures, recognizing and celebrating success. A chance to make an impact, and an opportunity to change the world.
It’s a lot to hope for, but I’ve got ten years.