Welcome to a new year, although as many have noted, 2022 just seems to be starting like a variation on the past two years in so many ways (I almost used the word variant. That seems a little *too* on the nose). Collectively, I think we are all tired. We are drained. We are exhausted. I admire anyone who feels renewed and reflective right now because (gosh darn it) the last two years have been something else.
Somewhere in the last week of 2021, the #10yearchallenge started popping up on social media. I'm not sure who started it or why it surfaced again. I remember this came up as 2019 turned over into 2020, which made sense. The turning of the decade and that nice round number always gives us something to cling to in a nostalgic way.
Did this one start as a bit of fun as people started confining themselves in quarantine instead of roaming off to New Year celebrations? Or is there something more nefarious involved with the trending meme?
Either way, it did make me reflect on where things were for me ten years ago. I actually looked back on some of my profile pictures from 2012. That was kind of a big year. After blogging about our journey with Charlotte and my grief experience for almost three years, Four Seasons for Charlotte finally hit the printed page. Publishing the book was such an interesting experience.
At the start, I had no big ideas about hitting the New York Times Bestseller List. Hey, that would have been nice, but I'm no Dave Finch*. Publishing the memoir was more a labor of love and a way to tell our story as we grew CJSTUF. I did it because so many people had told me (had told us) that our blog had helped them understand how to support other families. It helped them understand their own grief journey. Plus, I liked writing. Is that an indulgent reason to write and publish a memoir? Yes.
I think all writers are a bit indulgent. Don't you?
Anyway, going through the writing, editing, and publishing process was a great experience for me. It reminded me how much I love to write. It reminded me how much I loved books and reading. I gained additional experiences writing for blogs and magazines on a freelance basis and I loved it!
I knew I couldn't make a full career switch with this writing thing (at least not right then). However, it was that renewal of the writing bug that planted some seeds. Even though the blog and the freelance writing gigs dropped off and my "real job" took over, the seeds were hibernating, waiting for just the right fertilizer. Then my mom died in 2018 and I realized that I needed to take the opportunity to go back to school to get my PhD. If ever I had an opportunity to write (and write) (and write), this was it.
Maybe it is cliche to think about the 10-year challenge this way, but I think most people change (somehow) in the course of a decade. It's rare that any of us stay on a proverbial life treadmill for such a long period of time. You don't have to wait for the aughts or the fives to reflect back. As frustrating as 2022 seems to be starting out, I find hope in knowing that ten years from now, we will be able to reflect and say, "Wow! That was hard. Look at how far we've come!"
What have the last ten years taught you?
*Dave and I went to the University of Miami together and his memoir was also published in 2012. It's great. If you haven't read it, you should. He's a funny, insightful guy, even though he's a self-proclaimed "idiot".