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The 2010s Reflections

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People are reflecting on the last decade on Twitter. I'm not entirely sure how you can do that, sum up a decade of your life in 140 (or even 280) characters. Now, you know I love a good reflection, but I sometimes wonder about the ratio of thinking to doing/being. I think reflection is good and useful, but I know that, for me, I have a strong tendency to "overthink" things — paralysis by analysis, and all that.

Being reflective is an occupational hazard for artists and especially writers. It kind of comes with the job. But it's also common for this reflection to swiftly turn into impostor syndrome, where everything we produce is not good enough. Focusing on accomplishments, as the Twitter trend does, helps a little, but I suspect not a lot.

Here, let me show you what I mean.

What have I accomplished in the last decade?

1. Raised two kids from babies to pre-teens. They are both still alive.

2. Moved across the ocean (again) without losing it (mostly).

3. Finished my PhD (remotely!) and published a scientific paper.

4. Started writing fiction.

5. Recorded an album (should be released before the end of the decade but we'll see).

6. Started practising yoga and meditation to take better care of myself.

7. Became vegetarian (again), and if you don't think that's an accomplishment, try cooking a vegetarian dinner on a regular basis for two picky kids and a carnivore.

8. Returned to reading fiction, including taking some literature courses.

9. Wrote and published 263 blog posts (not including this one—152 posts here plus 111 on my Developmental Mommy blog).

10. Returned to singing.

This is when I start thinking I had thrown the last decade away. None of these feels like a great or world-changing accomplishment. I've had an interesting journey, sure. But I'm not the successful scientist I wanted to be ten years ago. I'm not the always-polished, craft-making, cupcake-baking stay-at-home-mum I thought I would be. I haven't published (haven't even finished writing!) a book. Do I work hard or do I mostly hang out, writing half-stories that nobody will ever read? What is even the point?

This is where my thoughts go when I reflect. There's always something I haven't done, something that didn't work the way I wanted it, something I failed at. And the irony of this is that I actually love my life. I'm grateful every day for being lucky enough to be able to write and sing and take literature courses and read fiction, while also being able to pick the kids up almost every day from school and spend time with them. I'm grateful for having a healthy body that allows me to practise yoga and a healthy mind that allows me to practice meditation. I'm grateful for having a roof over my head and not worrying about how I'd feed my kids or pay for all the books they want to read, the instruments they want to play, the opportunities they want to try out.

My point is that while reflection is useful, sometimes it's also useful to just be. Sometimes I envy people who can just be, and not overthink things. That said, I don't think I can ever be that person.


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