Lessons I Learned Over a Decade

As 2020 starts off a brand new decade, people are taking the opportunity to reflect on the previous one. The idea of ten years feels like eternity. But when I think about myself ten years ago compared to myself now, the distance seems even more vast. To map the journey from 13 to 23, here are some of the most formative lessons I learned over the last decade.


When I was 13 years old, I learned that some friendships don’t fade; they’re broken to pieces. At the same time, I realised at 14 that new bonds can quietly materialise when you’re unaware.

Ultimately, most people in life come and go. That’s just how it is. And at 15, I learned that walking long distances isn’t as difficult if you’re walking with the right people.

At 16 years, I learned what it’s like being alone despite being surrounded by people. Still, there’s hope. Old places can be imbued with new memories. At 17, the same paths I once walked in exhaustion later led to new adventures.

Eiffel Tower
2013 | Paris is different every time I visit

When I was 18, I started university and realised what being homesick means. But time is strange. With each day I crossed off the calendar before I could go home, I was also counting one more day I felt more at home right where I was.

At 19 years old, I found out that even a small thing like a smile is a miracle in itself.

And it was as a 20-year-old that I finally learned to spend time with myself. To not let lack of company stand in the way of new experiences, and to appreciate the quiet moments when they’re there.

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2019 | An afternoon in my own company

When I was 21 years old, I met people who were distant even when they were right in front of me. With them, a whole evening spent together could be lonelier than just being alone. I also met people who may not be around all the time, but still find ways to reach out at the right moments.

At 22, I learned that there needs to be a soundtrack to life. I revelled in the fact that, for a whole year, I could sing Taylor Swift’s 22 and actually mean it. With the right music, the sunlight feels a little warmer, the day a little brighter. 

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2018 | I don’t know about you… but I felt more 22 that year than any other

I learned at 23 years old that adulthood is tedious. It took me a while to catch on, but a big part of being an adult seems to involve treading the same paths. Finishing a task and capturing that brief moment respite before having to do the same task again.

In many ways, the tedium is a blessing and a privilege. But after rampant childhood escapades in dazzling sunshine, adult life seems a little murky as I wait for my eyes to adjust.


If you had to pick your most formative lesson from the last ten years, what would it be? As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, friends.

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