My thoughts on the #10yearchallenge and looking back on the last decade

There’s this trend going around on social media at the moment where you share a photo from 2019/2018 and one from a decade ago. I ignored it for a while but eventually, seeing all the cool comparisons got to me and I decided, rather late, to jump on the bandwagon. So I set off hunting for a photo of myself from 2009.

Unfortunately, I very quickly realised that there were HARDLY any photos of me from that year and a quick jog of memory reminded me that 2009 was the year I attempted to realise my dream of becoming a lawyer. Not a very good year for me.

I finally found one photo of me from early in the year – a photo of my now husband and I at the Botanical gardens on our first “day time” date. That was a good day and the photo is a lovely reminder of that day but for the most part, 2009 was an absolutely awful year for me and looking through photos brought back a flood of emotion from that time.

2009

Becoming a lawyer was my dream.

It had been my dream since I was a little girl watching Ally McBeal be a badass. Though a bit of an awkward one. I loved watching all the legal shows and I was convinced, from about 7 years old that I was meant to be a lawyer.

Unfortunately, law school taught me that law is NOT like you see on TV. It is about memorising and using old cases and being able to sculpt an argument based on thousand year old precedents set by old cases. I HATED EVERY MOTHER FUCKING MINUTE OF IT.

By April, I knew I was done.

I was doing two years of law in one (post grad law stream) and I was stressed beyond stressed. The assholes who study law hide the text book and make life selfishly hard. There is so much to read that you can forget sleeping. You don’t get a minute of free time and you basically live and breathe law school. I didn’t enjoy memorising case studies. It’s not how I learn. I’m a broader picture type person, I understand how the world works and I get people and logic is my thing. Law was NOT for me.

So I told my family, for the first time in my life I was going to be quitting. My grandfather told me to see the year through before giving up. I tried to convince him that I couldn’t but he managed to convince me to keep going. After all, this had been my life time goal and dream and I had worked so hard to get into law school so I kept going.

Then I failed. I failed it all.

I failed and I struggled to understand how that was possible. I was working so hard. I was reading and studying. My life was a living hell. So I told my grandfather again I was done and he managed to convince me to just finish the year. So I tried.

I was struggling. I was buckling under the pressure. I gained almost 20kgs eating my self into a coma trying to deal with the weight on this degree. Then I started to think about how rather than disappoint my family, it would be easier to just give up. To kill myself and not have to face them.

I actually thought that suicide would have been the easier way out because the pressure was just too much for me.

All my life I had been told A- isn’t good enough, it’s not an A. B was the devil, it wasn’t an A etc etc… there was always that push for me to be more. To achieve more. As a result, I am so hard on myself . I will break myself for not knowing something, for failing, for getting it wrong. I’m just not allowed to fail. And you know what, that is fucking bullshit.

I could have killed myself. I thought about it a lot. I thought about ending it all. Then I thought, I can’t do this to my mother and so I didn’t. But if it hadn’t been for those thoughts, who knows what might have happened. Pressuring your children to get perfect grades and to stick to something they hate is NOT the way to go.

And you know what else? FAILING IS OKAY!

It’s how we learn. It’s how we progress. It’s how we change direction. Failing is not a sign of being stupid or less than. Failing is a sign of being on the wrong path and it’s an opportunity to try a different way.

This 10 year challenge didn’t make me happy.

Seeing 2009 me made me sad. It brought up memories of someone who doesn’t exist anymore. She was thinner, younger, pretty and she was miserable. She was depressed. She was grieving her dads death and she was not okay.

2019 me is happy. Sure, she’s fatter, rounder and has a bad hip but she is also happy. She loves her job, has an incredible husband (lord knows how he stuck around through the drama of 2009) and a son that is everything.

2019

To think I almost missed this life makes me so heartbroken. I think of people who did miss out. People who didn’t get through their own struggles. Who were pushed to stay on a path that didn’t work for them and my heart breaks. I used to think people who commit suicide were weak but then I felt what it was like to feel trapped, like you have no choice. I get it now.

Be there for someone who is struggling. Telling them they HAVE to keep going is not helpful. It’s not healthy to push ourselves to keep living a life we hate. This is not a self help post, this is a plea. Do not push your children so hard they break. That line is so very fine.

I am thankful that I am here to look back on the last decade.

It has been a good one. SO much has happened since 2009. I think about how I nearly died giving birth and how hard I fought to be here. For my son, for my family, for myself and I am thankful. This life is worth every second of it. What I learnt in 2009 is that you can’t force yourself to walk down a road that isn’t for you. The consequences are not always worth it.

2009 me was stronger than I give her credit for, she is the reason that 2019 me is here to look back on it all and for that, I am grateful.

*Cover photo taken by Shante Hutton Photography

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