2016: A Year in Review

That’s right, I write about stuff besides clothes!

As most of us concluded quite a while ago, 2016 was an awful year.

Just the worst.

Just the worst.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Arnold Palmer, Leonard Cohen, Alan Thicke, and John Glenn are a small handful of the icons we’ve lost in the last twelve months. Massive terrorist attacks occurred in Nice, Istanbul, Orlando, Brussels, Berlin, and Aleppo. Alligators attacked people at Disney, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti hard, hate crimes and ocean levels are up, and Zika keeps spreading. The presidential election and all the madness that goes along with it happened. Same with Brexit.

My intention for this post wasn’t to be depressing, but a recap seemed necessary, and as I was first drafting this, I learned that Carrie Fisher died.

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. RIP, space mom.

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. RIP, space mom.

Yes, 2016 sucked. It started as a pile of hot garbage that turned more and more rancid until it burst into flames in early November and did its very best to consume everything in its path before it burnt out.

Dumpster fire metaphors aside, I think deep down we all know that the year didn’t really do anything to us. It’s not the calendar’s fault that people in power ignored scientific fact in favor of their personal feelings, or that the law decided it was totally cool to sexually assault people as long as you’re a really good swimmer. Logically, we know that the year had nothing to do with it, but it’s so much easier to pretend that it did because as human beings we thrive on having a common enemy to subtweet and whine about on Facebook.

2016 is our scapegoat, and that’s not inherently bad (I much prefer it to mankind’s habit of blaming different ethnic groups throughout history), but it still leaves us with pointless blame. 2016 didn’t end because we called it on its bullshit and held it accountable for its crimes — it ended because that’s what years do.

Bad things happen regardless of the year on the calendar. Sometimes there’s a reason for those things, and sometimes there isn’t, but how we let them affect us is what’s important. I hope we don’t have another year like 2016, but I know we can’t spend another twelve months reacting like we did to 2016.

We’re going to have losses and setbacks and devastation, but we cannot let those define 2017. We fight back, we keep moving, we change the things we can, and we don’t for one second point our fingers at the calendar and blame the number we see. We have to be better than that.

Furthermore, despite corporate greed being seemingly more important than access to safe drinking water, and hundreds of unarmed civilians getting murdered by police in broad daylight, good things did happen in 2016. Every year has its high points, even one that’s basically the Attack of the Clones of its decade.

So much wasted potential.

So much wasted potential.

In 2016, poverty fell at its fastest rate since 1959, veteran homelessness dropped 50% since 2010, and the unemployment rate was down to 4.6%. International negotiators agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons to help curb greenhouse gases, 24 countries and the EU decided to establish a 600,000 acre marine reserve in Antarctica, and giant panda and tiger populations are steadily increasing. The US teen graduation rate reached a historic high with Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, low-income, disabled, and English-learning students accounting for 83.2% of the graduation rate as a whole — meanwhile, teen birth rates are down 61% from the early 1990’s.

Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Michael Phelps, and countless others helped team USA bring home 121 medals from Rio, and the Chicago Cubs won the world series for the first time in 108 years. Beyoncé released LemonadeHamilton won 11 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and US and Canadian currency are getting a long overdue diversity makeover.

In 2016, I went to five weddings and saw my friends start new lives with the people that make them the best versions of themselves. Four more friends became parents, and can’t believe how amazing every single day is. This year, the incredible people in my life pushed themselves, faced their fears, earned degrees, changed careers, moved across the country, battled illnesses, made scary decisions, and supported each other.

My year wasn’t perfect, and not everything went according to plan, but that’s how life is. In 2017, I know I’ll need to work a little harder to see the good that’s happening, but if all else fails, I know I can make good happen. Everyone can make good happen. How’s that for a resolution?

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