Ten years ago, the High School Classes of 2009 proudly crossed the graduation stage. The four years leading up to the milestone were filled with all the ups, downs and awkward teenage phases. Making it to senior year was the most exciting yet stressful time of our lives. Marked full of decisions that would ultimately influence the path we chose in life.
A truly remarkable moment that celebrated our biggest academic achievement (at the time) and like all the graduates of the past and those since, the class of 2009 rejoiced in a shared day of optimism for our collective futures.
That last year, we voted on who would become the doctors, engineers, drama actors, and entrepreneurs.
We said goodbye to the friends, family, and teachers who wholeheartedly supported us throughout the years and welcomed the path of adulthood. The next decade would see us through relationships, hardships, starting our own families, and even quarter-life crises.
As millennials, society often gives us a bad rap but transitioning into adulthood has had its hardships as we all tried to figure it out.
Mistakes have undoubtedly been made throughout our twenties, but we learned what made us happy, strived to achieve our goals and pursed new passions. It hasn’t been easy but as we head into the dirty thirties here is a list of the 10 Things the Class of 2009 Learned in the Last Decade:
#1. The Power of Being Authentically YOU
So many of us hid our true selves in high school. Constantly chasing the enigma of being cool. Allowing the opinions of peers to have a heavy influence over our whole life.
Things that once made us happy i.e. playing instruments or being president of the chess team were switched in favor of some unbearably cool activity.
A decade later and well, we couldn’t care less what those same people think.
We are now comfortable in our skin and know that nothing means more than enjoying the activities and people who truly make us happy.
#2. Voicing Your Own Mind
When you’re young everyone has their own opinion on how you should live your life.
Everyone offers well-intended advice and while they undoubtedly have your best interest at heart all the voices become overwhelming.
We’re told to be practical, make something of ourselves but only with conventional means.
The uncertainty often clouded our dreams but a decade later and we’re no longer afraid to voice our own minds.
Expressing the needs, concerns, and wants that were once overshadowed by everyone else are now welcome to shine. And we learned that even in the hardest of situations, we must speak up and voice our truth.
#3. It’s OK to Lose Contact with Old Friends
For the most part, the kids that walked alongside us on the graduation stage were the very same we started preschool with.
Throughout our childhoods’ we became even closer but for the first time in our lives, we each made plans to go our separate ways. Some went to college, the military, traveled the world while others simply stayed home.
Promises to stay in touch were often spoken and while many were kept, some friendships didn’t last.
It wasn’t that these relationships were unimportant, but that life had simply moved us apart.
In our maturity, we acknowledge that while these friendships have gone un-nurtured, we still hold our old friends dear.
#4. Being Open to Meeting New People (and Hearing Their Perspectives)
Kids are often cruel, and many don’t fully grasp that the world is full of people from different backgrounds and cultures other then they’re own.
For me at least, I lived in a bubble of comfort where everyone looked at worshiped like me. Not quite understanding that someone different than you, isn’t a strange thing.
As adults, our worlds have been enlightened. We’ve met people we never imagined getting to know and learned to accept them as they do us.
Once our minds opened, we quickly learned to let of stereotypes and embrace the wide range of diverse people who come into your life.
#5. It’s Ok to Not Have it all Figured Out
Who has it all figured out? … Definitely not me and I’m willing to bet that you don’t either.
Ten years ago, I had BIG dreams. Some came true while others I had to let go. In the midst of it all, my peers seemed to be reaching the levels of accomplishment I once saw for myself.
And it hurt.
Suddenly I was a failure. It didn’t matter that my achievements were amazing in their own right or that those closet to me were proud.
Although it was a hard lesson, we’ve all come to accept that we’re not in competition with each other. That although you’re still figuring it out, it doesn’t mean that you’re behind in life.
#6. Not Everything You Want Will Happen
It’s safe to say that our parents may have knocked down many of our childhood roadblocks. We depended on them for everything and they made it happen.
We were taught that if you worked hard your dreams will come true.
But as adults, we quickly learned that everyone else is working hard too. That there are millions of people with the same goal and vision.
Each working hard, and some may be even harder than you. The rose-colored glasses of childhood now smudged with reality.
While we’ve learned to deal with many realities, we also took pride in pursuing new passions and striving for new goals.
#7. There’s Beauty in Re-evaluating Your Goals
When you start something, you stick to it. But how many times do you have to fail before it’s time to re-evaluate? As a kid, we had a vision of what our adult lives would be like.
Most of us at some point realized that what we wanted in our younger years isn’t what we need now.
It’s hard to admit that a goal you’ve been working towards isn’t necessarily what you want to do anymore. But in closing that door another opened full of possibilities.
Discovering new passions and ideas that heightened our send of purpose and brought us into spaces we never imagined.
#8. Do the Things that Make You Happy – Even If Nobody Else Does It With You
Movies, concerts, you name the activity and countless times I’ve missed out on things I wanted to do because nobody else wanted to do them too.
In hindsight, I missed out on great experiences and regret not taking the initiative to go solo. And likewise, over the past decade, many of us have found comfort in doing things on our own.
Realizing that you can have a great time by yourself.
#9. Being Comfortable With Your Own Flaws
No one in the universe knows us like we know ourselves and yet it’s easy to get lost in our own minds. Good or bad, you know the things that others don’t.
Most of the time, we’re our own biggest critics. Judgmental and over-analytical of the smallest failure.
In high school, we allowed these same moments to have a negative impact on our self-worth. We are our own differences and believed that somehow made us weird, ugly or strange.
The past decade, taught us to love ourselves. Flaws and all.
We became more mindful of our mental health, what we needed and being more vigilant of caring for our general health. Finally understanding that our flaws make us strong, resilient and beautiful in its own way.
#10. We’re the Adults Now
It’s a crazy realization but we’re the adults now.
The parents, aunties, uncles, and mentors of the younger generations. The memories we have of our own childhoods are now being created in a new youth.
A youth that will look back on their life and remember our faces and voices giving the lessons.
The same lessons on relationships, love, money, and careers that were taught to us. But as we begin to embark into the next chapter of our lives, we go into it with wiser minds and opened hearts.
It hasn’t been easy for the Class of 2009 but we’re thriving and living our best lives. So much has happened over the past decade but we wouldn’t change a second of it. While we all didn’t become what we envisioned for ourselves, we still found happiness and a life worth celebrating.
From the Editor: To my graduating class of 2009, the memories we shared are forever in my heart. We were young fools, living life as only the youth can. It’s true what they say, time flies by in the blink of an eye.
Ten years have passed but I still remember walking through those doors for the first time. We ran through campus with a vengeance and did all the annoying things kids could do. It’s funny to imagine that we’re the adults now, working hard and making an honest life. Cheers to another 10 years, may they bring happiness and success in our next chapters.
To the teachers and coaches, especially the ones who pushed hard, thank you.
What have you learned in the last decade
AND where do you see yourself in the next?