The Decade in Review

I’m sitting in my living room watching the daylight fade away at about 4:00 here in New York. The sun is making it’s final stand for 2019, which means that, not only is the year coming to an end, but the decade is as well. With everyone else out of the house at work, I’ve had the afternoon to do a fair amount of reflecting. This can, honestly, be a little dangerous, but I’m glad I’ve had some time to look over what the decade of 2010-2019 was for me.

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Fittingly, to add to the occasion, this also happens to be the 300th post to this blog. So I’ll be kicking off 2020 in a whole new chapter here as well. Although this blog has only been around since the end of 2012, it certainly has played a role in my creative outlets throughout the decade. There are more than 200,000 words making up these last 300 posts on this website. Kind of cool to see the statistics of it all.

This decade has brought a lot forth for me, so I thought I’d break it down a bit:

Travel

Being that this is, often, a travel blog, I thought I’d show gratitude to the places that have kindly taken me in as one of their own since 2010. The places that I’ve had the chance to call home include:

  • Nome, Alaska
  • Molokai, Hawaii
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Georgetown, Guyana
  • East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Rhinebeck, NY
  • McMurdo Station, Antarctica
  • Leros, Greece
  • Athens, Greece

I’ve also had the ridiculously large privilege of being able to visit the following countries, beginning the first week of 2010 with a college trip to the Republic of Panama, which ultimately turned me into much more of a travel bug than I ever thought I would be:

  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Greece
  • Mexico
  • Bulgaria
  • Scotland
  • Cabo Verde
  • Portugal
  • Wales
  • England
  • Austria
  • Bosnia

I wrapped up my time in Greece just two months ago and, seeing as my passport was created at the end of 2009, headed to the post office almost right away upon returning to the U.S. My passport was due to expire in December and the idea of not having one made me too nervous to delay getting a replacement. My new one is now in my possession and ready to go.

In national travel news, I also managed to get myself to nearly every state in the U.S. I didn’t manage to visit Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi or North Dakota between 2010 and 2019, but I’m pretty sure I touched every other state at least once.

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Relationships 

With travel comes relationships, which are far and away my favorite part about visiting new places. For me, human connection remains one of the best reasons for being alive. Thinking back to the beginning of this decade, it’s amazing to think about how far we’ve come in terms of connecting online and disconnecting in person. I feet like I spent a large part of this decade trying to navigate our changing world, making sure that I’m still able to maintain face-to-face contact and have fully human connections. That being said, I’ve seen how this simple gesture has grown more difficult.

I began the decade without a cell phone, and I actively did my best to avoid having a phone for as long as possible. When I could no longer resist not having a cell phone, I avoided getting texting and would only use hand-me-down flip phones from family members. My two years in Alaska, my year in Guyana, and my time in Antarctica were all perfect opportunities to unplug. Unfortunately, when living in the continental United States, unplugging has grown more and more difficult. When my digital camera bit the dust in 2017, I eventually got a smart phone since it was capable of taking photos that were nicer than any camera being put on the market anymore.

All of this is simply to point more directly at the fact that I love to talk to people in person. I’ll take your stinky breath over a keyboard any day of the week!

In this past decade, I’ve had relationships of all sorts. They can be categorized a little bit like this:

  • College Friendships
  • Community
  • Small Town Friends
  • Work Colleagues
  • Fellow Volunteers
  • Residents of orphanages
  • Backpackers
  • Travel Companions
  • Neighbors
  • Road Trip Companions
  • More Community
  • Students
  • Nuns
  • More Community
  • More Nuns
  • More Orphans
  • More students
  • Hiking Buddies
  • Beach Bums
  • Group Circle Attendees
  • The trifecta Work/Friend/Roommate Combo
  • Acquaintances
  • Strangers
  • More Fellow Volunteers
  • Residents
  • More Students
  • Family

And on and on and on…

None of this is to discount the difficult relationships that have occurred in the last decade, either. Those are more likely than not my greatest teachers. But I’m outwardly grateful for the hundreds of people who fall into the categories above.

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Work

Along with traveling to all of these weirdo places, I was also granted the chance to have some pretty cool jobs. Although there were a handful of jobs that almost broke me a time or two, for the most part, I’ve only worked jobs that I’ve been truly in love with. A lot of times, it was the people that I was with that made me love what I was doing, but there were many times where the work was honestly enough to keep me going. Working as a radio producer and DJ from 2010 to 2012, I often found myself putting in extra hours at work or burning the midnight oil simply because it was a place I liked being and going above and beyond was fun for me. It was also the kind of job where, the more you worked, the more results you had to play out over “the air”.

Each time I was in a school, in Kenya, Guyana, the Midwest, or Greece, I would often find myself getting chills over how excited I was to be in the classroom with eager students. Most of these jobs were, initially, just wishes that I had made, and all of a sudden they were coming true right before my very eyes. It’s interesting how life works like that.

On the negative side of things, there were a few jobs that I found myself in that I refused to allow to get to me over these last ten years. One lasted about a month, the other lasted just over two months. In both cases, the work was soul draining. That sounds dramatic, but, for me, I was very much struggling at these two particular times to get my head on straight and be okay with where I was in the world. In both cases, the work was not benefitting me and, worst of all, was detrimental to my fellow co-workers as well as the planet. I stayed in both of these positions just long enough to learn everything that they needed to teach me, and then I learned the beautiful lessons that can come with RUNNING AWAY.

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Money

Talking about finances is not something I do very often; however, since this is something that often comes up for people around the new year when they’re setting goals for themselves, I thought I’d tack it onto this post.

Financially, I came out of college with student loan debt. However, as of three years ago, my loan was completely paid off. Although I’ve been broke as a joke for the entirety of the 2010’s, and the amount of money I’ve made is likely laughable to anyone who would be doing my taxes, I am an American who, after everything is said and done, exists in the black. My net-worth is above $0.00. I’m pretty proud of that, considering the student debt crisis.

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Volunteering

Finally, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for all of the glorious opportunities I found to be a full-time volunteer. I spent the majority of my 20’s bopping around the planet doing cool stuff because of volunteer programs that make it possible for people to exist in exotic places while doing meaningful work. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I catch a glimpse of all of the stuff I was able to cram into ten years. And although, as mentioned above, I may seem a little looney to the average American who has likely been paid a lot more for their time in the last ten years than I have, I know my life has been so enriched by the opportunity to focus on everything else that an experience has to offer, aside from money.

That being said, I do have the financial goal set to make at least $50 a year for the next decade.

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And there you have it, my brief “Decade in Review”.

The best part about dropping all of these words onto this blog is that they’re a reminder of all of the stuff in between. It’s so easy to point out the places on a map that my feet have touched, to talk about the jobs and volunteering that I’ve done, to quickly mention the people that have mattered to me over the last ten years, but there’s obviously more to it than that. Ten years is a good chunk of time. When I look back on who I was in 2010, that person is gone now, he’s completely regenerated. And, when I think about who I may get to be ten years from now, I know that that person is going to be a brand new fellow as well. This is part of what keeps life interesting, I suppose. All of the “good stuff” is what exists in life between the cracks and spaces of everything I just spent 1700 words talking about.

So, my friends, thanks for having a read. Happy New Year, Happy Decade, and thanks for checking out my 300th post!

I’ll see you in the new year for the beginning of the next 300!

 

And so it is…

About mattylife

"And no one is a stranger...for long."
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