About this time 10 years ago, I was a naive, unaware, unsuspecting, inexperienced 20 year old who was about to go live in France by herself for 8 whole months. I was silently terrified when I landed in Charles de Gaulle Airport, finding myself unable to even independently navigate out of the airport and clinging on to a girl I met on the plane to help me. When I consequently made it on my train to Grenoble, I couldn’t hold tears back and thinking thoughts of doom. France felt like it was 10 planets away from home and I began doubting whether I could handle this experience. I used up ALL of my measly phone credit on calling an old friend in Kentucky to talk me through this terrifying, lonely moment, and to try to feel like home wasn’t completely cut off from me. I cried and mumbled into the phone while French passengers gave me suspicious looks.
That was 10 years ago. My world was tiny – I didn’t realise what even existed in this world. Literally. And if you told me that in a decade I’d be settled in London, married, and rowing on the weekends, oh and that I travel to Mongolia and Rwanda for work and don’t even cry at the airport, I wouldn’t have believed you. It would sound like a life of a complete stranger, someone with completely different options in life than me. Yet here we are.
Ten years can change so much.
The journey between twenty and thirty has turned me into a completely different person, and I can’t help but wonder how the next ten will change me. This is the convenient bit about turning thirty, and reflecting on life – I like the nice, round blocks of decades.
Being a 30 year old in today’s world has it’s unique challenges, particularly when it comes to grappling with the expectations we have inherited from our parents’ generation about what life should be by now – financial stability, property ownership, family, an aggressively up-sloping career trajectory. And in 2017, with a shitty labour market, high expectations, cut-throat competition, and generally dwindling resources, it can be easy to feel like you haven’t done anything, like you haven’t been successful.
But these are certainly not the benchmarks by which it’s mandatory to measure your life. Instead, reflecting on all the things I have learned and have overcome in the last 10 years, gives me warm and comforting relief. And it makes me SO excited for this next decade and the possibilities it can bring. What it can help me grow into, stretch into; the challenges I will rise up to, and the insights about myself and the world I will gain. The important thing is to remember all these things. To document them, to write, to reflect on them. Because that is your life, that is what it’s worth – this collection of experiences, insights, findings, victories, and even losses…