And just like that, 2011 is in the past. Many of us probably look back on the last year as if it were a smoldering crash site—indeed, an additional ripple in a decade that seemed to only thrive within and breed upon its own volatility. Others might view the last twelve months as a case study in inescapable human reactions to the deterioration of social, political, familial, religious, and economic norms. In other words, it was bound to happen—the way things have been going. Still, there are quite a few folks who look at 2011 and find hope, because human beings around the world found strength in one another and fought against corruption in record numbers…or simply persevered to find an answer to their own adversities. There’s probably endless ways to look at it—as there are so many things in this life. The twenty-first century has been anything but dull thus far (you can fill in your own adjectives here).
Perhaps a key ingredient within the last eleven years was confrontation. Yes, there has been plenty of it, across myriad landscapes and levels, but I’m thinking of something more personal. The last decade-plus-one landed in our laps early and often—and on many occasions, without much warning. The confrontation(s) inevitably occurred between the various realities we were presented with and how we decided we were going to react to and deal with them. We were confronted again and again, and we had to ask ourselves who we were, where we stood, and how we wanted to move forward. Technology, War, Economic Collapse, Social Unrest, Political Ineptitude, Corporate Corruption, Class Separation—some of the headlines we learned to live with, and often become desensitized to, over the last eleven years. Did we still fall in love? Sure. Did we still laugh and gather together? Yep. Did we still celebrate holidays and go to events and go on vacations and buy things and chase dreams and think about the future? You better believe it. But we were also confronted with many concepts along the way, and we found ourselves frequently asking a simple question: “Who am I in relation to this?”
It’s a question that’s probably going to become a part of our personal reaction to the world more and more over the next decade, and the ones that follow. Why? Because the world is only getting smaller, more connected, more interpersonal, more collective. We’re not only going to be confronted on more intrinsic levels, but the need to facilitate countless forms of diversity into our lives is likely going to become a necessary skill if we are to evolve properly—both on a personal level, as well as within our assorted groups. People that resist personal growth, defy innovative thinking, and push back against change will not do well as the future takes shape—and will in fact, likely get left behind.
It’s interesting: the new century pretty much burst out of the gate. A lot of us have come of age over this period of time. All you have to do is look back a mere fifteen years and chuckle at how different much of life was—and how oblivious we all were as to what was just around the corner. That said, here we are—here it is—2012. It’s safe to deduce that the rapid-fire changes that marked the previous eleven years will only increase in form and function over the next eleven, and beyond. Regardless of what comes of it, there will be an existential constant riding shotgun with us for the rest of our lives: Where do I stand? What does this mean? What should I do? Rest assured, we will be confronted again and again as our futures take shape within the larger picture. Now is the time to wake up and take notice of the world around you. Recognize yourself and your surroundings…make an effort to find yourself, if need be. Challenge yourself with new goals and bigger dreams. Accept that life is going to constantly change around you. And adapt accordingly.