4 words to carry into a new decade!

I LOVE a new year. I’m all in on resolutions and fresh starts and getting after a brand new bunch of 365 (366 in this leap year!) days. 2020 is shaping up to be epic! We’re going to finish and move into our house. We’ve got the 2020 summer Olympics to look forward to. I’m already registered for 10 post graduate credits. Josh is already looking forward to moving onto new projects and plotting his new business interests.

2019 hasn’t been a bad year, but it has had it’s frustrations and challenges and, to get poetic about it as Gatsby might say, it felt a lot like we “Beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly.” To that end, 2020 feels like getting past the breakers.

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And really, as 2020 is more than just turning the page to a new year, but rather closing the book on the past decade, there’s a whole lot of fresh perspective and hindsight that we can all gain from getting introspective not just on the last year, but the last ten. Have you seen the ten year challenges cycling around social media? Ten years is a long time! Ten years has seen a lot of change. I was graduating from college ten years ago, taking my very first job, living in a different city. Things we use today without thought: Instagram, iPads, Uber, Pinterest, Siri, didn’t even exist in 2010!

Google Drive didn’t exist in 2010!

Amazon Alexa didn’t exist in 2010!

Yet, all those things came into our world, and we integrated with them almost subconsciously, and it’s hard to remember when they weren’t just there in the background. And the things that we will be saying the same thing about in 2029 don’t even exist yet!

Because of the way the last decade has unfolded, I believe we are more poised and prepared to charge into the next 10 years if we do so with our eyes wide open and our heads on straight. To that effort, here are four words I believe we all should all carry into the next decade. Words that will define not just how we live, but how we interact with every person, challenge, and new “thing” that the decade brings.

When Instagram burst onto the scene, the theme of the 2010’s quickly became inauthenticity. Snap a selfie and filter Filter FILTER it to perfection. Keep it safe on a carefully curated feed of images that reflect the best parts of your life. Compare your “perfect” life to other people’s “perfect” lives and feel badly about yourself in the process. 🙄 Influencers can literally make millions of dollars posting perfect images of their perfect lives with their choice products.

There was a brief pushback about the inauthenticity of Instagram for a while, and those same influencers, weary of losing their followings and dollars, started trends like #realstagram where they’d post “real” pictures of their lives. And that’s fine, but when you’re living in a multi-million dollar house, and you’ve had a bunch of botox and nip/tucks, and you’re in $1000 designer pajamas that were sent to you for free, your “real” life looks pretty inauthentic as well!

I don’t care if you’re on social media or not in the next decade. Personally, I’m trying to move away from it a bit, but if it’s your jam, then post away. But let’s get AUTHENTIC again. And I’m not talking about being “REAL” in your social media posts because really, if you’re doing something purely for the social media post, that’s not being authentic at all. Do things for yourself! Do things for yourself regardless of how it will look on your Instagram feed or how many retweets it might garner. Better yet, go to dinner… travel… read a book… and then DON’T post about it! Just do it because it makes you happy and fills your soul. And to that end, when you do it…

A highlight of my last decade was the thirtieth birthday party Josh planned. Almost 30 of my best friends and family gathered for dinner in a hidden wine cellar room in downtown Rochester…and we have two pictures of the entire night. Why? Because in a room full of people, all with a cell phone close at hand, we were PRESENT for the evening.

When I think back on other highlight moments of the decade, my favorites are almost all moments of extreme presence. No one was there to photograph or film when Josh and I got engaged, but I could tell you almost every word that he said. I have 1000 pictures of our trips to Europe, but my favorite memories of the trips are the times when we weren’t connected to our phones…when we didn’t have wifi…when we couldn’t check emails or post highlights.

Seek moments of presence in this next decade. Moments that you live all in on. Moments that don’t need their own Facebook photo album. Moments that fill you up and stay with you not because you got the perfect selfie, but because you were there, in it, and that was better than any picture would capture anyway.

Here’s some insight into the last decade: in 2016, “post truth” was named the word of the year by Oxford dictionary. Post truth means: “denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” This should scare the Hell out of us! As I have watched the evolution of social media, and I have talked with my high school students, I believe that much of the reason this post truth era has developed is that we, as masses, stopped thinking and started reacting. Social media is designed for reaction. Facebook has “reaction” buttons. Instagram and Twitter solicit reactions of like, share, retweet, etc. We slowly began conditioning ourselves not to process information critically, but rather to react to information emotionally.

9 times out of 10, the things that people get really emotionally worked up about on social media, are things that they know very little about academic or intellectually. Even our news media outlets, one time the keepers of truth, now play much more into the emotions of their audiences than the facts of a story. HOWEVER, if we…YOU…are willing to THINK about something before reacting, if you are willing to seek truth even when it makes you uncomfortable, if you are willing to apply a critical lens to the headlines, memes, clickbait, and ads that are thrust upon you by people hoping that you do nothing but react, we can claim back the truth.

But you have to think. In our house we use the phrase “does it pass the say it out loud test?” Would you say it, to a complete stranger with enough knowledge and conviction to hold up to scrutiny? If not…think about it some more!

And finally…

Reach for something in the new year, and new decade, ahead. Don’t stay put. Don’t stagnate. Don’t settle for the same thing again and again. Stretch yourself. Push yourself to reach for something that has thus far seemed beyond your grasp. Reach for something better than you’ve had. Reach for the thing you’ve been scared to get. Reach out to friends you’ve lost touch with. Or maybe, reach out to someone brand new. Set goals. Reach for them. Challenge yourself. Reach new finish lines. Reach for the stars. Reach across borders, cultures, aisles, dividing lines. Reach for a helping hand…or reach out a helping hand yourself. It’s 2020. Everything is out in front of you. Nothing is out of reach. Jump in. Go get it!

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As you think ahead to this new year, I hope you find it full of authentic moments in which you have total presence. May you reach new heights, do good work, and find health and happiness in the new decade ahead! Happy New Year!

Cheers.

Published by Kate

A former Wisconsinite, Kate now resides in southeast Minnesota with her husband where she teaches high school English and theater. She recently completed her master's degree in learning design and technology, and continues to study and advocate for arts integration in the classroom. A recipient of the RISE America grant for high school theater, Kate is working to innovate and expand theater opportunities for the students at PIHS. An avid distance runner, concert pianist, and want-to-be wine aficionado, Kate's blog "ink." is a passion project, embodying all the best parts of life: friends, food, wine, thoughtful conversation, style, and sass!

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