I’m Not Worried About What I Didn't Achieve In The 2010s. Here’s Why You Shouldn't Either

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‘Time flies’. ‘Time waits for no one’. ‘Time is a healer’.

For a concept we have no control over, we talk about time a lot

Yes, it really does heal and yes it really does whizz by, but do we need to worry about it? I remember a conversation with my best friend on one of many work lunch breaks, around Christmas, where I said: “I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone.” I find myself saying that every single year.

I think it’s just one of those typical sayings that us Brits feel the need to say, like “I can’t believe how early it gets dark now” or “I can’t believe how cold it is”. Just like how we know the evenings draw in this time of year and we know it gets bloody cold, we know that the clock keeps on ticking – but that doesn’t stop us from being so shocked at how another year has come and gone. 

My best friend’s response that particular day was: “Well, I guess when you think about, 365 days isn’t really that long,” and I’ve never forgotten that – because it’s true! Whenever I’ve been going through a hard time, my bestie has always advised me to think about time in terms of hours and days, not weeks and months. For someone who loves to overthink a ridiculous amount, this helps me massively as it allows me to control my thoughts better and keep myself in the present, and I would highly recommend mastering the art of this, although easier said than done, I know!

My reasons for writing this bunch of words? Well, in recent weeks a meme’s doing the rounds about there days left of this DECADE! “So whatever you’ve been thinking about doing, do it now!” people say. And I just laugh – why should anyone have had to spend the last few weeks panicked about doing and planning everything to ensure they’ve done it before 2020 arrives?

Of course, I’m all for biting the bullet and daring to take chances, but equally I don’t think anyone should put pressure on themselves to achieve anything by a certain age. For example, I daydreamed about living in America ever since I visited New York City for the first time at the age of 19. I didn’t actually move to America until days after turning 30! But better late than never. I’m a big believer in timing and everything happening for a reason, so rather than doing something because you feel like you should be doing it, do it because you want to do it. Or do it when it feels right, not because a new year is approaching.

That said, it did get me thinking about the last decade of my life: how much I’ve achieved, how much I’ve seen and how much I’ve learned  – the mistakes, the heartbreak, the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Courtesy of the author (Photo: HuffPost UK)

Let me start by saying a lot happens in ten years, and I think it’s important to look back on the good and the bad. I’m not saying dwell on the past, but as so many of us beat ourselves up for not having “done enough”, it’s important we remember how far we’ve come too. Why not focus on what you have done as opposed to what you haven’t?

Take me, for example. I ended the Noughties graduating with a journalism degree and, quite honestly, being unsure if I would ever make it in the world of media. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fast forward ten years, I have worked at MailOnline, built and led a team of 12 reporters at the Daily Express Online, and I’ve moved to Los Angeles to spy on celebrities. I’ve worked hard and made a successful career out of my journalism degree and passion for writing. Yeah, I’ve written a lot of showbiz stories about Kim Kardashian and Carol Vorderman, but it’s a skill I tell ya! 

Tell 21-year-old Kirsty all that on the eve of 2010 and she would never believe you. Try telling that same Kirsty that just weeks after her 25th birthday she would break up with her boyfriend and would feel like her absolute world had fell apart. And try telling her that she would find love again, and then get her heart broken… again! Would I have believed the good? Would I have believed the bad? Would I have wanted to know that all of that was coming? Probably not. As my mum has always asked: “If you knew what was around the corner, you wouldn’t go round there would you?” And I think she’s right, I wouldn’t. But I survived it all, and I know I will survive whatever the next decade throws at me, and you will too.

Last year I began writing daily gratitude lists after a friend recommended it to help me through a hard time, and I cannot stress enough how humbling it can be. You may struggle at first to think of five things a day that you’re grateful for, and they may seem like really simple things such as waking up in a warm bed, or the weather being decent, but a gratitude list can really help you put things into perspective when it feels like everything is going wrong, or that the odds are against you.

Writing those lists prompted me to then write a list of all the positives that came from me moving to Los Angeles, I was desperately trying to look back on my experience as a lesson, as opposed to a huge mistake and gradually that list made me feel much better about it all… even if it did take a few attempts! And as usual, time solved that. Time really is a healer, after all. Time passes, things get easier and a new ‘normal’ ensues. I’m not giving myself enough credit for what I actually did. And I think many other people are the same. 

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Courtesy of the author (Photo: HuffPost UK)

I guess the “do it now” meme can be interpreted in a positive way too, because it’s encouraging people to not waste any more time and to quit that job, start that website, move to that country, profess your undying love to that person etc etc. But what’s to stop anyone from doing all of those things in 2020 too? Instead of panicking about what we haven’t done, I would encourage everyone to look back on the past ten years and think about what they have achieved, as opposed to what they haven’t. Because all achievements come with struggles, so chances are you learnt some serious lessons during the difficult times, and they made you who you are today. It sounds cheesy, I know, but give yourself a pat on the back and remember how far you’ve come. Chances are, the good will outweigh the bad and will remind you that you really can handle whatever life throws at you in the next decade. 

I’ll be 32 in a matter of days, and although I know I’m still young, there’s always a feeling in the back of my mind that my twenties are gone forever – but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing? There were highs, there were lows, but I survived it all and I’m sure my thirties will be just as eventful, but in the words of my wonderful mum, “If you knew what was around the corner, you wouldn’t go round there, would you?”

Kirsty McCormack is a freelance editor and journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @kirstymccormack

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