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It's OK If You "Haven't Accomplished Anything" This Decade

A viral tweet sent the internet into a self-deprecating frenzy.

BBC

If the passing of time has escaped your notice, I regret to inform you that there's only one full month remaining in the current decade.

This could be unfortunate news to those of us who like to quantify our accomplishments within timely increments. It was certainly an unwelcome reminder to a large population on Twitter, as they readily expressed when user @stfutony sent the website into a tizzy after asking a well-meaning question: "There's only ONE MONTH left in the decade. What have you accomplished?" Naturally, a wide array of responses ensued. Some used it as an opportunity to list their notable milestones—graduations, marriages, overcoming illnesses—but others took issue with the retrospective. To some, it was only a reminder of what they hadn't accomplished as much as they wanted to.

But why do we use these increments of time like years and decades to reflect on ourselves, anyway? New Year's resolutions have a long history, tracing back as far as 4,000 years ago. The month of January is named for the Janus, a god the ancient Romans believed to have two faces: one facing forward and one backward. In that context, then, it makes sense that we have this ingrained habit around the turn of the year to contemplate how we spent our last year and how we want to approach the new one.

But the Romans weren't taking into account that sometimes, in the modern era particularly, looking back at long periods of your life can be rough. Surely, we've all accomplished something in the last ten years, but we've also all likely experienced a lot of struggle and pain that can overshadow our achievements. It's also important to take into account those of us who struggle with mental health issues that can make the past decade seem much darker. And it doesn't help that social media has made comparing ourselves to others much easier and more damaging than ever. Not everyone necessarily benefits from analyzing their past so broadly.

Of course, Twitter users weren't shy about voicing their complaints: "All [this] does is make me, and other people, who haven't really accomplished anything bragworthy or notable, feel like absolute s**t," one said. Another said the tweet reminded them that they "wasted six years with a person who never thought [they were] worth a damn and he actually held [them] back from accomplishing anything worthwhile." And it wouldn't have been a true viral Twitter moment if some users didn't memeify it: "there's only ONE month left in the decade," tweeted @what_eats_owls. "WHAT have you done to make your enemies curse your name and salt the earth in your wake?"

Maybe using the calendar to delineate your accomplishments is a natural method of reflection, but if we can learn anything from this Twitter fiasco, it's that using years and decades as markers for our personal growth is incredibly arbitrary. We're all floating through life on our own timeline; focusing on what we can improve moving forward is far more productive than comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet.

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