A lot can happen in ten years.

It’s a statement so obvious that it borders on cliché, but with 2019 coming to a close I’ve found myself musing a lot on what the difference of a decade actually looks like. In 2010, I was a high school senior about to graduate. I had the rough edges of a plan beginning to take shape, a direction that would solidify into a degree and career trajectory I would then abandon five years later. I had no idea that I was going to spend a year living abroad, take the MCAT, get engaged, and write 13 books. I was just a kid, as lost and confused as any teenager has a right to be. And l look back on that fresh-faced and hopeful 18-year-old with loving exasperation. She’s going to make so many mistakes, many of them painful, but it’s all OK because she’s going to get to the place she needs to be.


Which begs the question: what will I be looking back on a decade from now?

We often think of life in units of years. Especially during the holidays, our thoughts fill with annual goals, resolutions, bucket list items. We envision the next New Year’s Eve and what we want to have accomplished by then. But on this December 31st, I see a lot of people thinking broader than that. We aren’t imagining the end of 2020 but the end of 2030 and what might happen in the intervening time. How many joys will there be? How many successes? How many failures? How many moments that can’t be so easily categorized?

Who knows, but things will certainly look different from the other side.

Even though it’s an arbitrary day, like any other, this particular New Year’s Eve makes me realize that life isn’t made of the high points or low points but the rolling, messy journey over them. When you see time from a bird’s eye distance, those jagged peaks and valleys seem softer, almost sepia-lit. They become a part of the horizon. A part of you.

I end the 2010’s joyful, excited, frustrated, motivated, confused, and determined. In other words, I continue as I’ve gone, not as one thing, but many things at once. And I hope, looking forward, that I can come to accept this glorious disorganized cacophony as an inevitable and beautiful part of the human experience. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that nothing ever truly goes according to plan.

Which can sometimes be the best part.

What do you think, looking back on your decade? Where will you be by 2030? And, most importantly, how will you get there?

Happy New Year.

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