This past week, it very suddenly came to my attention that we are about to end a decade. Granted, this is based on the Christian/solar/Gregorian calendar, so for us Jew-folk it doesn't really mean a whole lot. But it's still kind of fascinating to me for two big reasons: 1) The close of this decade has us all looking back over the past ten years to pick out the cultural phenomena that will come to be known as the markings of the 2000's (Like big hair in the 80's, or the rock and roll of the 60's). 2) This past decade has really been one of enormous change for me, and probably for anyone else in my age group.
First, let's discuss the cultural phenomena. I recently (and when I say recently, I mean within the past week or so) have become acquainted with the concept of "memes." Meme is defined in Wiktionary as "Any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." It is commonly used to refer to viral internet cultural materials. Things like LOLCats, the Numa Numa guy, and All Your Base. (For more information on various memes, I recommend checking out Rocketboom.) It's these internet memes that I think really represent everything that has defined the past decade. This may not be something to be proud of, but I still think it's true. The rapidity with which these little tidbits managed to spread is a direct result of the changes in communications technologies over the past 10 years, and the content is also incredibly representative of our current culture. The impact that the internet and all of it's components have had on the world is astronomical. Social networking sites like myspace and Facebook have completely changed the nature of interpersonal relationships, and sites like Youtube have revolutionized the way we express ourselves. I think people are going to look back on the aughts as the age of "Lulz."
Now on to me. This past decade I went from being 12 to being 22. I'd say that has to be one of the most important transitional stages of human life, and I guess I kind of see the upcoming new year as being the end of that transition. 10 years ago, I had just switched to Bais Yaakov Middle School and was trying to recreate myself from the little girl that got made fun of in elementary school. Maybe that's the mission I set out on when Y2K came around and the world didn't end. I like to think I was pretty successful. When I compare my life now (stable, married, and satisfied with some good solid friends) to who I was then (lonely, desperate for acceptance and depressed with low self-esteem) I can't believe how far I've come. I'm pretty proud of the person I've become, of the life I've chosen and of the things I've accomplished. I'm incredibly grateful for the immense number of brachos I've been given, from my wonderful, loving husband to my incredible supportive friends and family. From my comfortable apartment (even if it isn't technically mine) to all of the luxuries I get to enjoy on a daily basis (like central heating). And the distance I've come religiously is no small thing either. I'm so thankful that I was able to clear my head a few years ago and realize the incongruities in the way I was living my life. I'm even more thankful that G-d gave me the personal strength and the outside support (in the form of family, friends and that oh-so-wonderful husband) that I needed to make the changes that I had to make to become who I am today.
So all in all, it's been a pretty interesting decade and I'm pretty eager to see what the next one has in store for me. I'm hoping it will include things like graduating college, having kids and getting "real" jobs that pay salaries and offer benefits. (Mmmm...benefits...) Maybe I'll move to Israel. Maybe I'll win the lottery. Maybe I'll change the world. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.