10 Things I’ve Learned in the Last Decade, Part One

Hello and happy almost New Year, friends 💜

This post is inspired by a tweet from Jameela Jamil. Because I love me some self-reflection, so I’m going to share some lessons I’ve learned in the last decade, in the hopes that they may help someone else, too.

Here is Part One of the Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Myself in the Last 10 Years.

1. It’s okay not to like everyone, and not everyone has to like me. 

I began the decade as a 7th grade teacher at Paredes Middle School. As a decent, kind, and hard-working individual, I thought it reasonable to believe that I’d get along well with everyone. Then I thought it was my failing when I didn’t. In the last decade I learned that some people are dicks. Some students (and some teachers, too) will simply dislike a person because… pick a reason. But that’s okay. I can control my reactions to a situation, not theirs.

Now I choose to focus my energy on the people I do like and who do like me.  Yeah, I’ve got flaws like everyone else, but I am a decent, kind, and hard-working person, so… who wouldn’t like me? I like me. And that’s  a pretty big life lesson right there.

2. Relationships have to be able to change in order to grow.

For the last three years, I’ve been writing Answer, a novel series based on two men in a kpop band who fall in love. They get together super young, and because of this they struggle to hang onto their relationship as they go through these massive life changes, like fame but also transitioning from the puppy-crush phase to the sexy phase to wanting-to-start-a-family-and-settle-down phase. 

I learned that in all relationships, not just romantic ones, we have to let ourselves and our partners (siblings, children, friends) be vulnerable and make mistakes. Yeah, it hurts. Change hurts. And sometimes, at the end of the day, you have to decide that it’s time to walk. But if you want to keep a relationship, if it’s valuable to you, you have to talk, you have to work, you have to meet them where they are, and you have to let that person be who they are, even if it means they’re changing into someone they weren’t before. 

Hopefully, they’ll value you as well and meet you halfway. If so, you’ll both be stronger for it.

3. We can’t save the planet, but we can make our world a better place.

As a Generation X’er, I can tell you this has been a hard, hard lesson. Over the last decade, I have come to understand that we humans have done irreparable damage to countless ecosystems, and that we’ve doomed ourselves. 

I have a child. This is not the legacy I wanted for them. So instead of weeping over the world we’ve lost, I’ve decided to focus that energy on positive steps toward making our world a better, safer, healthier place to live. In the fall, I read an article in the New Yorker about the oncoming climate apocalypse that radically shifted my worldview. So, just like in the first lesson, I intend to focus my energy on the mikrokosmos, the small world in which I can make a difference every day. 

I’ll continue this post tomorrow with Part 2 of the Ten Things I’ve Learned in the Last Decade.

4 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned in the Last Decade, Part One”

  1. This is an interesting insight into where you are. When I taught middle school, I learned more than I thought. I sometimes felt unprepared for the needs that presented themselves. I think I did my best, but I also left feeling that I didn’t do enough.

    1. I always felt that, too. As hard as we worked, it was never enough.
      I miss my students, but I don’t think I could have continued the job any longer than I did. More power and more love to those who make it to retirement. They’re the real heroes here.

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