This decade has tried to go out with a bang.
I’ve spent the last few days of 2019 wondering what it is that’s making me “feel a little off.”
To me, feeling slightly off is a lot worse than being angry or upset or having any of those dense emotions. Why? Because those emotions, heavy as they might be, have the blessing of being exactly what they are. There’s no need to dig a little deeper to find out why you’re feeling that way. Usually, there’s a big reason staring you in the face.
When these “slightly off” feelings arise, I become a hermit. I light a torch. I investigate the inner shadows of my soul, and usually, I don’t love what I find. It’s a lot like deep cleaning. The further I go in, the more things I find that need attention and effort. I usually get tangled in cobwebs of emotions and have to dust my psyche.
So I did the same this time around, and here is what I found: The end of the year is when I normally catalog all the events of the year (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and take stock of personal goals. But something, my intuition told me unhelpfully, was off this year.
It wasn’t until I read this Shine newsletter, that a light bulb went on. What I failed to recognize was that my predicament was a common one. There’s a lot riding on the shoulders of these last remaining gasping days of 2019, but these are also the last dying days of the decade, which can create a much bigger kind of pressure.
I’ve always had trouble with endings. My reading habits are a testament to that as I usually deal with the emotional baggage of ending a good book by starting another book. (This is why I don’t smoke, folks.) And what is a year if not a story, specifically my story? And then it came to me: I pay attention to other people’s stories so much that I’ve more or less neglected my own.
So, as a remedy, I thought I’d write a short, bullet-point narrative of my decade.
- 2010: Sophomore year of university. Grappled with the idea of studying engineering
- 2011: Studied abroad in Sunderland, England. Started building myself as a person
- 2012: Went through the roughest patch of my long-distance relationship as my love went across the sea to China to teach English
- 2013: Got my first real job. Graduated from university with an engineering degree. Came out to my family.
- 2014: A rough year of recovery from coming out and being considered a full-fledged adult.
- 2015: Moved into my own apartment. Began therapy. Helped Grace relocate to San Diego.
- 2016: Rough, rough year. Started brainstorming my first novel.
- 2017: Plotted my first novel. Changed my job. Started healing from 2016. Decided to propose to my love.
- 2018: Proposed to my love! Started playing a table-top RPG game. Outlined my first novel. Learned how to be a person in the process.
- 2019: Got married! Finished the first draft of my novel. Learned how to be a person within the context of community and family.
Looking back at all this, I see that I have come very far from a place of being afraid and being lost ten years ago. I can also pinpoint my own midpoint in the last decide, the place where I decided, “Enough is enough. I’m gonna do something about this.” It’s powerful to see out in the open.
Sometimes, we forget our own stories while watching other people’s unfold (in my case, usually a fictional person’s). But if you’re stuck emotionally about the decade ending, I highly encourage telling your own story in a way that matters to you. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be public.
But every single story matters, especially the ones we tell ourselves.
Have you had similar experiences with the decade ending? Leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @yasaminnb to tell me what you think!