Hegde: The Real Ten-Year Transformation

Students at the University of Iowa were asked to reflect on their past and present, bringing a new meaning to the popular “Ten-Year Challenge” seen all over social media.


Suchaeta Hegde, Opinions Columnist

We’ve all seen it at this point: photos placed side by side, one depicting a younger, wide-eyed person and one showing the result of this person enduring 10 years of experience. Seeing these transformations usually evokes at least a smile from me, and at most a second glance if the two pictures look nothing alike. However, is the 10-Year Challenge doing people justice? Can two photos really sum up a decade’s worth of happenings?

Posing a survey on Facebook, I asked students a series of questions about the last 10 years. Out of 16 responses, no one voted that the most significant change was purely physical, with equal numbers of people voting that their significant growth was either mental or both mental and physical. Asking people what they thought their plans were, the majority of people responded they had no idea. I suspect this is mostly because the majority of college students hadn’t even reached their teenage years 10 years ago. Students were much more confident in answering their hopes for the next 10 years, with responses ranging from hopes of settling down to finally reaching success in their field of choice.

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Asking about the 10-Year Challenge, many students agreed that while the social-media trend is fun on the surface level, it would be a lot more meaningful if it focused more on mental growth. UI second-year student Kaylea Norman said, “It’s definitely interesting to look back to where we all were 10 years ago, but now that the trend has become more of a meme, it is less significant.”

Taking a look further into the 10-Year Challenge, which has made its way through social media.

UI sophomore Luke Lesnik had similar thoughts. “I think it would be much more respectful to both our younger selves and present selves if we focused on how much we have mentally blossomed over time,” he said.

I, too, wanted to dive deeper into this social-media challenge, because I think my 9-year-old self would be glad to know that my journey brought me right back to my childhood dreams.

A proud bookworm with a passion for writing stories, I thrived in 2009. To be completely honest, I didn’t think much about the future back then. I just wanted to keep reading and writing — and as far as I knew, nothing could stop me. Over 10 years, I had to put my affections on hold for academics and began to search tirelessly for what passion of mine could become a career; for some reason, I forgot about the two things I had loved most. I will keep my story short: After a brief rendezvous in the world of pre-medicine and a creative-writing course that brought back fond memories, I eventually ventured toward a writing-based major and joined extracurriculars that matched my passion, all leading up to me working for The Daily Iowan.

Now, my question is: If you saw a photo of my 9-year-old self and a photo of me now, would you say my transformation is the result of the absence of neon-colored braces or the realization of my childhood dreams? I’m guessing the latter. That being said, maybe the 10-Year Challenge would be more significant if it focused more on what happened between taking two photos.