Decade Challenge

A bonus photo of me, on the far right, when I was 13 or 14. I rocked some sort of shaggy bowl cut/mullet pony tail at the time and genuinely thought I looked cool.

As the collective world geared up to enter 2020, many of my friends shared photos of themselves at the beginning and end of the decade, labeling it the #DecadeChallenge.

I think calling every minute social media trend a challenge defeats the purpose of the word, but when I reflected over the last 10 years, it definitely was a challenge in its own way.

In 2010, I turned 14 and transitioned from middle school to high school. I’ve grown up from a literal child to a young adult trying to make my own way in life.

I still remember vividly how painfully awkward and dorky I was in my early teens, obsessing over what people thought of me while outwardly projecting the appearance that I didn’t. In middle school, I wore ill-fitting T-shirts and basketball shorts every day because in my mind, my crush would fall madly in love with me when he realized we dressed the same? I honestly don’t understand the logic now.

Thankfully, I found my footing during my high school career after my English teacher suggested I join the yearbook staff because I liked writing so much. From then on, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and writer. It was a far cry from when I was maybe 8 years old, telling my teacher how I wanted to be a professional dog walker when I grew up.

That experience helped me open up more and I joined several organizations (even cross country even though I suck at running!), so many that I’m really not sure how I managed them all.

I graduated high school in 2014, a very scary prospect as I prepared to embark into the unknown. I’d decided to move almost eight hours away to attend school at Indiana University Bloomington, much to the despair of my protective, single mother. I never said this outright, but I was bullheaded because I needed to know I could do this on my own.

I remember never feeling quite so alone, yet somehow so accomplished after my dad dropped me off at my dinky, single dorm room. That first semester was rough, and I had both really good and really bad times. Ultimately I conceded, feeling frustrated and defeated, that I couldn’t cut it out there, at least then.

Because of that, though, I found a home at K-State. Impassioned by my perceived failure, I tried to reach out more, making friends with people in the residence halls, actually leaving my room to go to fun events and taking on leadership positions in my job and student organizations.

I graduated in 2018, which was also very scary because I couldn’t necessarily rely on attending more school. After a summer internship at The Mercury, my editors offered me my first “big girl” job, and this past August marked my official one-year anniversary here (yay!).

This past decade, I also became closer to my family’s cultural roots, served as a bridesmaid in my mom’s wedding, moved into an apartment with my boyfriend of nearly six years, gained and lost friends and family members, and lived through many other experiences that have shaped me.

It’s been a whirlwind, but I think it’s turned out well so far. I feel more sure of myself than I ever have, even if I’m making decisions as I go. I know there’s still much more I haven’t experienced and don’t know yet, but I have to say I’m looking forward to what the next year and decade have in store.

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