Nurture - January 16, 2019

The 10 Year Challenge: 10 Things I’ve Learned In The Last Decade

By now you’ve probably spotted or even taken part in social media’s newest viral movement. The “10 Year Challenge.” What seems to have originally started on Facebook as a way to compare an older profile picture from 2009 with a current one has morphed into a trending internet sensation, that has crossed over to other platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The #10YearChallenge, a comparison game of one’s old self to their new self is also being populated by other trending hashtags like the #2009vs2019 challenge and the #HowDidAgeHitYou challenge. While most people, including many celebrities, see the challenge as harmless social media content—a chance to laugh at oneself or an opportunity to flaunt how good you still look, there are others who question whether or not this is actually an engineered ploy to get us to share more data about ourselves.

While debating on whether or not to take part in the 10 Year Challenge, I realized even though I surely could find two photos suitable for my social media ego, no picture could tell the story of what I’ve learned in the last decade of my life. The comparison of who I was to who I am today is far more in-depth than any hot or awkward photo I could attach to a hashtag. Rather than compare how we look ten years later, why not compare how we’ve grown. Why not share how our perspective on life has changed, how differently we regard our relationships and how we’ve come to love ourselves. Let’s discuss what we’ve learned and what we’ve achieved.

Below are 10 things I’ve learned in the last ten years.

How To Unapologetically Be Me

It’s easy to get lost trying to be someone you’re not. The need to fit in or be liked can easily cloud your ability to be yourself. Authenticity might seem like an overused word these days, but it is one of the most attractive personality traits there are. It’s also vital to keeping successful and meaningful connections with other human beings.

In the last ten years, I’ve learned to not care about who likes me and who doesn’t. I love myself, and I am comfortable with who I am. It takes much too much effort trying to be anyone else.

Success Is Not Attached To A Number

My idea of what success is has changed drastically over the last decade.
The number on a call sheet, the number of followers someone has, not even the dollar amount on a paycheck equate to how successful you are.

Success is determined by how happy you are. Are you living your best life for you? Do you wake up every morning with enthusiasm? Do you love your job? How much positivity do you put out in the world? How much of what you do is genuine versus doing things for “show?” For money? For status?

Being successful has nothing to do with outside validation, it’s all about inner fulfillment.

Real Love Shows Up For You Every Day

After dating my husband for a week, I broke up with him (even though the moment I met him I knew he was destined to be my husband.) He was scheduled to start production on a movie in Romania. The thought of instantly falling in love in a few short weeks and then having to deal with a four to six-month separation while the other person was engrossed by work seemed like a relationship death sentence to me. I spent three days crying in my bedroom while he played the cool card before eventually persuading me to hang out with him again.

The ironic thing is that his movie kept getting pushed, I booked a television show (“Single Ladies”) three months later, and I was the one who had to relocate. For six months, we spent hours every day on the phone, and my soon-to-be husband flew to Atlanta every other weekend. Even when I was too scared to allow him to, he never stopped showing up for me.

He is that same partner to this day. Whether it’s making breakfast or filling my gas tank, his love shows up in many ways, every day.

To Take Time For Myself

Remember when being alone was boring and scary? Not anymore!

Having alone time is something I’ve come to cherish. Taking time for myself is vital to all my relationships. Eleanor Brownn was not lying, “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

The Meaning Of Real Friendship

I’ve learned to categorize who I’m friendly with and who I’m friends with. Mostly because as an adult, I see more fake friendships amongst women then I did in my twenties. “Friends” with hidden agendas, “friends” who are working so hard to “keep up with the Joneses,” “friends” who talk behind each other’s backs, “friends” who are always competing, “friends” who belittle other friends.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Real friendship means acknowledging each other’s differences, opinions, and feelings, holding each other accountable and pointing things out to one another with love, not judgment. Real friendship involves confiding in the messy parts of life so that you can genuinely celebrate the beautiful parts.

Friendships take work and to maintain a real friendship both parties need to be willing to do the work. I’m proud to say that I’ve been rocking with the same ride-or-dies for a decade, if not more. There is genuine truth behind our “I love you’s,” there is acceptance, there is respect, and there is loyalty.

To Say Sorry and Admit Responsibility

Learning to say sorry takes real growing up. At some point in my life, “I’m sorry” might have made me feel weak or wrong but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that saying “sorry” is an act of strength. Apologizing is not about who’s right or wrong it’s about taking responsibility for your part of the situation. It allows for all parties to move forward without experiencing any disconnection and without holding onto to any resentment.

Saying “I’m sorry” takes putting on your big girl pants!!!

To Move In Fear

I’ve most definitely have learned that magical things come from working outside of one’s comfort zone. Fear of failing, fear of embarrassing myself, fear of exposing myself was stifling.

It might have taken me some time to pursue something, I may have needed to figure some sh*t out first, and I might have needed to study harder than anyone else to catch myself up to speed, but I never had a dream I didn’t follow.

How To Be Present

Often we are so concerned about what is going to happen tomorrow or what happened yesterday that we completely forget to see the beauty in what is happening today.

Motherhood made me stop wondering what was coming next and worrying about what had already happened. It forced me to be present. To live in the moment and to enjoy it.

To Speak Up

One of the qualities you either love me for or don’t is the fact that I ALWAYS speak my mind. Recognizing the power of my voice and being able to share how I feel about something or someone is a trait I am very proud of. Every day I encourage my little girl to let her voice be heard (in a respectful way) and to speak up when she doesn’t like something that is happening, whether it’s to her or to someone else.

To Practice Gratitude

Every single day is a blessing, and I don’t dare take that for granted. In the last ten years, I’ve witnessed how precious life is. Because I believe that each day is a gift we are given, I look for little ways to celebrate everything, and I make a point of reflecting on the people and things I’m grateful for.

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Photography - Lauren Miller
Photography - Leslie Hassler
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