#10 year challenge and what are you really celebrating

Let’s keep some perspective here

I can tell you who and where I was ten years ago.

I was a miserable person who was trying to keep it together and failing at it, though I didn’t know it at the time.

2012 I had started adjuncting as an English professor at a local community college and learned, on the first night, that I wanted to teach. I worked at a newspaper in Louisiana and though I was five hours from my friends and family, I was alone.

I was learning some hard lessons — people are not always good and when they are not, they are awful. See people’s souls and not their exterior. There’s more to life than the newsroom, though it was my life at the time.

And I was drinking. Lots of wine. Bottles of it.

It wasn’t all bad. It was my first time traveling by train to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Chicago, and I was learning to work video and video conferencing for the first time (which has been so handy in 2020 and 2021), and I had just graduated from Goddard with my MFA. The best decision I made.

(Incidentally, I’m still paying on those loans. Ugh.)

But when I look at the picture from 10 years ago and now, I see a girl who was desperately lost and running toward something, anything, that would save her.

Except she didn’t know she needed saving. That may have been the most tragic part of it all.

I grieve for her. In a few short years (months?) she’ll develop depression and anxiety. She’ll gain enough weight to threaten her health and, in one summer night in 2015, in an apartment in Arlington, Texas, she’ll attempt to take her life.

On the left, me in 2012 in Chicago during the AWP conference. On the right, me now.

This #10yearchallenge is mostly about aesthetics. Do you look younger or older? Have the years been kind to you?

So, how have the years treated you?

When looking at the past, it’s easy to stir long-laying ghosts that perhaps should never been mentioned. For most of us, this social media-inspired walk down memory lane will bring up hard-earned, learned, and re-learned lessons that still sting.

Even as I write this I’m a little teary-eyed at the memories.

It’s important to acknowledge the person you were 10 years ago, the situation you were in and what it lead to. The good needs the bad and vise versa for that is life. There is no 2022 version of you without the 2012 version of you, no matter how naive or not they were.

What I’m saying is to go beyond the aesthetics of a trend and take the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge all of it — good, bad, and indifferent. That what is a trend doesn’t have to hurt and if it does hurt, if there is still pain there, that you now know better than then to help heal yourself.

You are the person the 2012 version has been waiting for. Heal them for both.

Live the peace both of you wanted.

As for 2012 me, I grieve for her but I celebrate her. She did her best. And each day, she has more peace than the day before. Like she always wanted.

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Writer, Daughter of immigrants. Caregiver. Writing teacher. Afro-Latina. Mental Health informer. Runner.

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Icess

Icess

Writer, Daughter of immigrants. Caregiver. Writing teacher. Afro-Latina. Mental Health informer. Runner.

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