The last few months of this decade are closing out here, and at the same time I’ve found myself in a time of transition that’s given me pause and made me look back over how much has changed in the last ten years, both in the whole world and in my own life.
I’m no contemporary historian, and my perspectives have been too limited to really have much original insight on what’s happened to the world at large. America has gone through some serious growing pains, especially involving foreign and economic policy. China has secured its “rising superpower” status, representing both potential for huge improvements in quality of life for many, and serious human rights concerns as well. I’ve had countless friends spend long amounts of time in China in the last few years: most of them teaching English and learning Mandarin. I feel like I should probably be doing the same for my own benefit.
As for myself, I can’t believe how much change I’ve been through. Here’s a short list of things I can remember about myself in 1999:
- I was in my last year of being an only child living alone with two single parents.
- I had recently become a Christian, and was thus adjusting to a very different view of myself and the world.
- My dad had recently been through a big breakup where I chose to keep a relationship with his ex going, despite pressure from others to break it off.
- I was a total introvert.
Here’s where I am now in comparison:
- Both of my natural parents remarried, and I now have a stepsister and half brother. I learned a lot from having siblings and from being a part of a larger family.
- I’ve been through a lot of evangelical churches and social circles, where I met some incredibly loving people and some total nutcases. I matured a lot and gained a lot of perspective. I also had some church influences that gave me what I consider now to be pretty unhealthy attitudes. I am thankful to say that I’m happy with where I’ve ended up: I have a strong, beneficial spiritual life, and am fiercely anti-religious. Am I still a Christian? Yes, and because of it I have strong qualms with most of today’s concept of “Christianity.”
- My dad has recently been through a big divorce where I chose to keep a relationship with his ex going, despite pressure from others to break it off. This time has been much more complicated, and it’s given me a lot of doubts about both my existing and future relationships. Nothing terrible, but I definitely have a lot of stuff to work out.
- When I became a teenager I got crazy social. Now I’ve calmed down – only a little, mind you, especially after the craziness that is studying abroad in Spain – and have reached a healthy medium. I go crazy with too much time alone or too much time out painting the town red.
As for the decade ahead… I have a lot of big unknowns. I’m in my last year of college, and graduating with a degree has been a big goal for me. After that, I don’t know what I want to do, but I have lots of ideas. I went off on my own in the Sahara this April and spent a long time praying and meditating there, and I came away with my desires for what I wanted out of my life realigned. My future career is but one factor in the large scheme of my entire life (embodied by the Spanish attitude of trabajar para vivir, no vivir para trabajar – Work to live, don’t live to work). I’m considering doing two years volunteering for the peace corps. I’m considering moving abroad, or looking for a nontraditional job that could give me the freedom to travel.
So it’s been a very packed ten years, ten years which have ultimately left me better prepared and very excited to see what life has in store next!