I can’t believe this first decade of a new millennium is coming to an end. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how much I bought into the Y2K hype. (Hey! I was twelve!) I have grown up so much in this decade, yet sometimes it seems as if I’m still the twelve-year-old girl I was when 2000 started.
In 2000, I was 12 and felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. My parents had finalized their divorce the September prior. I had no self-esteem to speak of and was scared to even look at a boy I had a crush on. I dealt with extreme insomnia. My mom battled depression. The one bright spot of 2000 was the week-long trip I took to Virginia with my mom, my brother, my grandparents, and my cousins. I saw snow for the very first time and experienced the thrill of skiing for the first time.
In 2001, I was 13 and experienced tragedy when terrorists crashed planes into a huge building. My dad went to jail for 3 months for stealing $2,000 from his mother. We lived in 4 separate places this year: a condo, an apartment, my grandparents house, and then had to move with them as they moved to another house. I still struggled with major self-esteem issues.
In 2002, I was 14 and really excited about what life had to offer me. I was excited to finish middle school, as it had been the most awful three years of my life. I couldn’t wait to start high school and have a fresh start. I was still incredibly shy and saw myself as fat and unwanted. My self-esteem was super low. I was extremely proud to be in a magnet school, even if it was in a program I had no interest in pursuing as a career (criminal justice). Still, I thought I was better than those “mainstream” kids. My brother started dating Jenny.
In 2003, I was 15 and immersed in the world of AIM and Xanga. I was addicted to the computer and playing on it every chance I could get. While I had friends, we didn’t spend much time after school together, aside from one or two sleepovers. I went to Homecoming on a date with a friend, and it was one of the best times I have ever had. This was a year I was trying to “find” myself and searching for answers in everything from religion to rock music. It was also the year an amazing opportunity passed my way.
In 2004, I was 16 and handed an amazing opportunity to spend the rest of my high school years at a charter school, where I would take college classes that would count as college and high school credit. At the end of my 2 years, I would graduate with my high school diploma as well as my Associates in Arts degree. I met a great group of girl friends who brightened my day. I was very family-oriented. After taking college-level Anatomy and Physiology (at the age of fifteen), I decided I didn’t want to be a veterinarian anymore. And so went the process of finding what I did want to do in life. I went on a date this year and had an “almost boyfriend” for about 3 weeks.
In 2005, I was 17 and floating by in life. This was the end of my junior year of high school and the beginning of my senior year. My guidance counselor was going crazy, getting us ready to apply for colleges. I applied to 3 colleges this year: University of Florida (denied), University of South Florida (accepted), and University of Central Florida (denied). I took the SAT and didn’t do so well on them. Life was mundane and nothing exciting happened this year. My brother graduated from high school and moved out in September to live with his girlfriend.
In 2006, I was 18 and a high school and college graduate! I spent the summer working for a movie theater, which was so hard but also a little bit fun. I left home for college (which was only 30 minutes away) and ended up hating it so much. I had a roommate that I clashed with. I spent a lot of my free time in the school bookstore to get away from it all. I was an elementary education major, something I absolutely adored. And I worried away most of fall semester that I wouldn’t meet the class requirements to get into the College of Education, because of two awful classes. (I ended up making an A in one, and a C- in the other.)
In 2007, I was 19 and lost 30 pounds. After a horrible year in the dorms, I came back home for good. I started working at a preschool and became a lot more adept at handling babies and kids. I joined Weight Watchers and lost those aforementioned 30 pounds. I was an intern one day a week in a first-grade classroom, which was a whole lot of fun but also very scary. I was excited about my future.
In 2008, I was 20 and lost my way. I was supposed to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in elementary education in December but after a bad internship in the spring with a fourth grade class and then an awful one in the fall in another fourth grade class…I was told by my supervisor I wouldn’t pass the internship. I took a month off to think and decided teaching was not for me. I changed my major to journalism. I discovered I didn’t have any financial aid left to cover any more expenses. My dog of 11 years, Minnie, died in June from cancer. I quit my job in March to focus on school. I worked at a print shop during the summer, where I spent 90% of my time watching sitcoms and playing at my computer. We found out in May my grandma had stage IV colon cancer. My nephew was born in September. I spent November and December searching for a job to no avail.
In 2009, I was 21 and pursuing my passion. I excelled in all my journalism classes and for once, I was recognized at having talent at something. I started working at another preschool in February. I started blogging with a purpose and discovered an entire network of bloggers and friends. My grandma has been cancer-free for an entire year. We were given a dog, a mini-daschund, from a family member who has become an integral part of my life and one of my best friends.
I realize I spent most of this decade worrying. Worrying about money, worrying about my looks, worrying about what people thought of me. My hope for this upcoming decade is that I stop worrying so much. I learn to trust God and trust myself more. I learn to stop worrying so much about what people think of me and start looking internally for happiness. Happiness and acceptance will never be found in other people, something I did end up learning from this decade.