Letter from the Editors: This decade, sometimes surviving is thriving

The end of a decade brings some amount of meaningful, level-headed reflection. But as this most recent 10-year dumpster fire comes to a close, the internet has managed to ruin even that.

Last week, Twitter user @stfutony tweeted, “there’s only ONE MONTH left in the decade. what have you accomplished?”

At first, people responded either genuine lists of things they did between 2010 and 2019 that they were most proud of, or a litany of cynical yet lighthearted versions of “Absolutely nothing!”

Then, as is usually the case with anything on Twitter, folks began to feel crappy. Seeing the glowing accomplishments of others made people feel self-conscious about their own experiences. The desire to compare yourself to others is an often invisible pillar of social media, so it’s no surprise that, when asked to do that directly, things didn’t go well.

“Realized most of my list was about survival and not accomplishment,” one user wrote. “Now I feel like sh-t.”

Let us say definitively: Survival is always a worthy accomplishment. Especially during these volatile times, when the world feels like it’s about to explode at any minute, keeping yourself from descending into chaos and ruin is a lot harder than it used to be. So, in the spirit of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Lindsay Lohan, let’s celebrate that!

It’s easy to look at your past like a highlight reel — emphasis on high — and gloss over all the lows. But don’t forget that living through the struggle got you here, too.

College-aged folks have come of age in this wacky world. Back in 2010, when we were still in middle school, our biggest concerns were the release of the latest iPod and getting hair in scary places. As we grew up, social movements raged around the world and the internet proliferated, overwhelming us with both possibility and angst. Everyone’s mistakes became ultra-visible, making many of us cynical of the adults running the show. Now that it’s our turn to be those adults, we can have a better idea of the world we want to create for ourselves.

Take inspiration from the artists who have created opportunities for themselves, whether it’s Tucker DeGregory writing a performance study of his musical hero Joni Mitchell or Adam Kantor bringing together food and storytelling in StoryCourse. Doing your own thing requires you to be fearless, to unsubscribe from outdated notions of what it means to be successful. Things will only get crazier from here, so now is not the time to hold back.

Here’s to the next 10. Keep on surviving.

— Maddie Burakoff, Catherine Kim and Alex Schwartz