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.

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Should We Support Problematic Books & Authors?

“For some he was a war hero, a philanthropist and a profoundly altruistic man. For others he was a bully, a misogynist, and even an anti-Semite.”

Can you guess which author these words refer to? Here’s a hint: he was a children’s author recognised for his imaginative and humorous stories. Some of his most well-known books include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

You probably know the answer — the person being referred to is none other than Roald Dahl.

Roald_Dahl
Roald Dahl | Source: Rob Bogaerts/Anefo, via Wikimedia Commons (licensed under CC0)

Apparently, the well-loved children’s author was not so universally well-loved after all. The article from which the earlier quote is taken describes how others have perceived Dahl as intellectual yet arrogant; determined, yet selfish; a source of joy for the world, yet also controlling and disloyal.

True, accounts may be subjective. But questionable personality aside, Dahl’s books also contain problematic elements, such as traces of misogyny and unrestrained cruelty against children.

This discussion might seem irrelevant, considering it’s been decades since Dahl passed away. But his books are still around — as are other authors similar to him, whose actions and/or works have potentially problematic aspects.

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On New Friends // Letters to October (14)

Dear October,

Before I started my final year of university, I started praying for friends again. What was the worst that could happen, I reasoned.

At some point, I started having plans again. I explored life as I wouldn’t have dared to by myself. I found myself with more hands to support me than in many years. In the meantime, further precarious fixtures in my life fell away. Most had been fading since high school years — unanswered messages on both sides, conversations abandoned midway, as if we had gone out of breath from running around the same track. It was a long time coming. Others went abruptly and loudly, leaving scars that will keep opening before they heal.

Either way, it hurts when ‘is’ becomes ‘was’. And it’s even harder to leave those rotting relationships behind when they keep reappearing, when your guard is down, through threads of social media. Keeping someone around like that, labelling them friend even when the word is empty of meaning, makes it easier to leave a window ajar in case the real thing is ever revived.

It’s easy to scroll through moments of their life and sink deeper into the what ifs. To wonder if they think of the past at all.

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