An End-of-Decade List for the Rest of Us
Don’t tally your accomplishments. Here’s what really matters.
“It’s the end of the decade. What have you accomplished in the past 10 years?”
That’s the Twitter prompt that has been making us doubt our life choices lately. (Right? Or just me?) Social media generally brings out the performative exhibitionist in all of us, but the end-of-a-decade thing multiplies the anxiety-inducing quotient by at least 10.
This decade was hard. We are all a little raw and vulnerable. Profound dysfunction in our country’s leadership is on display in chaotic impeachment hearings. School shootings are on the rise. Scientists warn that time is running out to reduce the deadly effects of climate change. And we never did figure out if that dress was blue or white.
So maybe we skip the self-congratulatory lists and memes this year? Instead, let’s just acknowledge that we’ve made it through. That’s no small accomplishment. Go ahead and take a moment and congratulate yourself. Insert all the applause emojis here. Breathe. Maybe eat cake.
After all, the accomplishment fetish is not just exhausting — it’s insidious. It implies that our worth is measured in dollar signs, wedding contracts, and home ownership, some of the main cultural constructs that have divided humanity since our bipedal evolution.
Everyone — and I mean everyone — who has ever studied happiness arrives at the conclusion we already know. Beyond our basic material needs, safety, and freedom, a connection with others is what forms the basis of human happiness. Harvard researchers, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, national security experts, your dog — they all say the same thing. Loneliness and isolation are as bad as they sound, and connecting with others is the essence of life.
This has been an epoch of divisiveness. Families were separated, walls were built, and our hearts have been filled with fear and anger. As well as recognizing that we came through, we should remind ourselves how to climb out of this snake pit of a decade.
The roots of healing lay in the most obvious places: Community, gathering, activism, connection. We may be scared, but we’re not alone.