Reflections on 2016

I’ve noticed quite a few people recently complaining about how crappy 2016 was, and how they can’t wait for 2017 because apparently, life will magically get better in the new year. That’s simply not true. Sure, bad things did happen this year, like the Zika virus scare and the messy, ugly presidential election, but let’s not dwell on it. Yes, mourn those we lost, but look at the bright side of the year as well. Remember the joy and hope that we saw at the Olympics? And did you know that global child mortality rates have declined and that the giant pandas have been removed from the endangered species list? 

One of my favorite quotes from Doctor Who sums up how I feel about the year. In the episode “Vincent and the Doctor,” the Doctor and his companion Amy travel back and visit Vincent van Gogh at a time when he wasn’t so famous. They help the depressed artist realize how much people love his work in the future and even inspire his sunflower painting. At the end, Amy heads back to the museum to see if there are any new paintings by van Gogh, convinced that they made a difference and reshaped his life. But when nothing has changed, she feels as if they failed. That’s when the Doctor steps in with this wisdom:

This year was filled with good things and bad things, like any year. If it seems like there was more bad than good, then step back and examine your attitude. You cannot live so negatively, it’s not how God wants us to live. Your year will not magically get better if you think about it like that. You have to focus on the good. Make a gratitude list tonight as you wait for the ball to drop. Look through your old pictures on Facebook. Call a friend or family member and reminisce on the good times this year.

My year was definitely rocky. I could think of 2016 with sorrow as the year I lost my great-grandmother. But I’m not going to do that because Granny taught me not to. Taking care of her taught me to relish the precious moments while they’re happening, instead of dreading the eventual end. If I had only been thinking about her death while I was with her, I would have cried the entire two months. But I didn’t. Instead, I enjoyed her smiling as I sang her hymns, I laughed as she told me a story for the millionth time, I comforted her reassuringly as she endured auditory hallucinations, and I treasured the love in her eyes whenever she saw me.

I grew so much in those weeks with Granny. Now, instead of grieving constantly over missing her–and I really miss her–I look back over the year and smile. 2016 was the year I took care of my great-grandmother. 2016 was the year I learned what it truly meant to love. 2016 was the year I graduated highschool and went to prom. 2016 was the year I ran a (half) marathon and climbed a mountain. 2016 was the year I relied on my friends as I grieved. 2016 was the year I became a leader for our youth camp and helped direct a play for kids. 2016 was the year I lived my dream at Campanile.

In 2016, I sang, danced, laughed, and loved. I learned to let go. My confidence grew not only as a performer but as myself. I was accepted to four different universities and earned enough scholarships to go to my dream school. 2016 was my year of growth and dreams. It was full of heartache, difficult life lessons, and loss. But it was also good. I loved 2016, and I’m grateful for how much I’ve changed as a person. It was all part of that next step God has for my life. 

 One of the random pictures I found when I was looking through this year's photo album. All of us were piled on the couch at once
One of the random pictures I found when I was looking through this year’s photo album. All of us were piled on the couch at once

Last year, in 2015, I did not feel ready to start college, and I was even wondering if I could do YWAM. Even when I turned 18, I didn’t feel like an adult. I still don’t feel like an adult, but I feel a little older. Now, I feel like I’m ready to do YWAM and college, and I’m beyond excited for both! I will hold on to the lessons I learned in 2016 as I fly (literally) into the adventures of 2017. Like every year, it will have its share of good and bad, the joyful and the sorrowful. It’s going to be a year of new friendships, new places, and new adventures. It’ll probably be a hard year, too. I’ll be away from home for most of it. I’ll miss my family and friends here in the States, and when I come home I’ll miss my friends that I’ve made in Ukraine. I’ll still miss Granny, I’ll miss being able to tell her about my trip and reassuring her a hundred times that yes, I’m safe.

Yes, there are some things waiting for me in 2017 that I’m a little nervous about. But all I have to say is,

bring it on. I’m ready! 

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