Globally, the story of the last decade has been the gradual rise of right-wing nationalist movements, goaded on by advances in technology and the expansion of unregulated social media, resulting in conflict and turmoil.
Similar stories played out just about everywhere: from Europe to the Middle East to the United States to India. Even nations whose politics might not reflect this plot still were impacted by this global movement — Norway and New Zealand, for example. Many of us now fear we are on the precipice of a greater, global struggle that could impact the course of this planet for generations.
Personally, my story of the last decade has been the struggle to find where I belong in the world and gradual self-acceptance.
At the start of this decade, I was finally beginning to acknowledge past traumas and my identity as a gay man. I was teetering on the brink of alcoholism, plagued by suicidal thoughts, and feeling especially lost. As this decade concludes, I have put many of those struggles to bed and found a comfortable, stable life. I am in a significantly happier place now than I was at the start of this decade. And although all standards for success are subjective and somewhat arbitrary, I feel I have succeeded in building a better life for myself than before. The turbulence has subsided.
On the surface, there’s irony to these two stories coinciding and overlapping — as the world hurtles itself toward self-destruction, an individual finds inner peace. But there also is logic behind the contradiction. As the world becomes more divisive, confusing, and terrifying, those impacted but still outside the line of fire are pushed to self-reflect on their purpose and their desires, to reevaluate their identity and their priorities.
There’s no doubt that this overlap partially results from this decade coinciding with my 20s. But I wonder if I would have been so often challenged to reevaluate my perspective if my 20s had overlapped with, say, the 1990s, a decade in which the world seemed on a path toward unification and peace.
Still, the ability to experience personal growth while world conflicts intensify is a twisted form of privilege. Whatever positive personal developments may have resulted from the chaos of this…