“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.” ― Jarod Kintz
I stumbled on this quote recently and it was one of those quotes that immediately echoed in my mind long after I read it. Since graduating and moving to San Francisco, I’ve consistently had moments where I don’t recognize my life. Just today, I was jumping on the 5 to head down to the gym when it hit me how foreign this life I was living would have been just a year ago. It’s a strange dichotomy where I’m left feeling incredibly aware of how much has changed and continues to change all while having flashes of memories of life “before”.
While visiting Big Sur (where the picture for this post was taken) about a month ago, I ran into a man and his family visiting the same location. Somehow we started talking and I found myself walking side by side with him chatting about the woes of technology, present shock, future shock, what going to Berkeley in the 1970s was like in terms of protests, what the Mission District was like when he was growing up, etc. In the midst of this, he said to me, “Each year of your 20s is like a decade. You will change so much year to year. Embrace it.”
When he said this to me, I felt like I was being let in on a little known secret. I also felt like it explained the odd sensations I’ve felt towards time and just general big life changes. Combine that with research and articles about how millennials are “job hopping” and I feel like this decade effect, for lack of a better term, is exasperated. I read a book called Present Shock that really verbalized for me how it feels to live in today’s world especially in the bubble that is San Francisco. In it, Douglas Rushkoff (the author) talks about how technology can advance infinitely yet we are finite. Should we really have batteries in our phones that can last days or will that just cause us to lose sleep staying up reading the latest article or watching the latest YouTube video?
How do you stay loyal to yourself in a world of rapid change and at an age where there is a decade effect (just going to coin this term at this point)? I always want to make sure I’m being challenged and that I challenge. I want to remain loyal to myself by giving myself room to grow and room to fail. Something that’s stood out to me in the last year at least has been that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. This put everything in perspective for me when I was trying to make decisions about where to move, where to spend my money, where to work, where to invest my time, etc. Ultimately, I want to be loyal to myself in the same way this opening quote states. I don’t have a set path about where to go, what to do, where to live, how to work, etc. I want to give myself time and room to figure that out and, upon figuring it out, keep the possibility open to change my mind.