10 Year Challenge

Have you seen the 10 year challenge going around social media? I’m not exactly sure how or why it started, but the concept is to put two pictures of yourself roughly 10 years apart next to each other, to see how you’ve changed.

It’s a fun thing to do – I think I look different, but people still think I’m in high school or college all the time, so maybe I don’t actually look THAT different. But I think that most of the changes that I’ve gone through haven’t necessarily been strictly physical ones. I thought it would be fun to do a 10 year challenge, but about my life in general, not just my looks. Since we’re just getting started in 2019, I’m going to use 2008 and 2018.

In 2008, I was in college at Carnegie Mellon – either finishing up my sophomore year or starting my junior, depending on which part of the year we’re talking about. I was very much still figuring things out. I was majoring in engineering, but realizing that maybe I didn’t actually want to pursue it after graduation. I had a really rough freshman year, academically, and was still learning how to study effectively and this point in college. I was starting to get more involved in groups at CMU – I joined a sorority my sophomore year, and got more involved with the campus newspaper, which I ended up loving. I had also just finished one of my internships with the Quality of Life Technology center, where I was introduced to research as a field, but I definitely didn’t know that was the field I’d end up working in.

I’m not absolutely certain, but I think that this is also when I started to solidify my friends at college. I had such a close group of friends before going away to college – we’d basically been friends since elementary school. I made some friends freshman year, but the ones I’m still closest with now I met a little bit later into college.

I also can’t write this without talking about living alone on campus. Until college, I’d never had anyone but my parents doing my caregiving. I really really wanted to live on campus – and I’m so incredibly glad that I did – but the adjustment was huge. By sophomore year, I was finally starting to feel a little more settled about living away.

I’ve touched on this last year in a few posts now, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do think it’s interesting to look at some parallels, and also see where things are wildly different.

I’m a part-time graduate student, so technically that hasn’t changed, but it certainly feels very different. I’m so glad that I took some time “off” between undergrad and graduate school, because being a student feels so different now. I’m able to actually take interest in my classes and dedicate the time that I need to, because I’m not completely burnt out on exams and problem sets. Now, with that being said, I have been a part-time graduate student for about five years now, and I’m really looking forward to the end of my MPH program.

What feels the same, too, is the feeling of starting to be settled, of knowing where I’m going and what I’m doing. This whole past year felt like a long, slow coming together of sorts. Pieces and experiences have started to click into place, and helped me to figure out what I want to do and how I want to move forward.

There were certainly both ups and downs in the interim years, but on the whole, I think my life in general is definitely on an upswing. Hopefully the next 10 years continue on this path, too.

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