When I think back to this past year, I realize just how much actually happened. So many events that I could have never even predicted altered my life for forever. Moving into this next year, I hope to keep everything that I’ve learned in mind as I live each day.
Starting at the very beginning of the year, what is quite possibly one of the largest influences on how I looked at the world was the presidential inauguration. The days leading up to the inauguration were difficult, as I knew the beginning of a new America was going to start, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. However, it was incredibly empowering to see what came as a result of it. The 2017 Women’s March that was created as a protest to the inauguration was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. Reading all of the updates, seeing the crowds get bigger and bigger on the news, all the people coming together to advocate for the causes that are so important to me. Focusing on that, rather than the inauguration, was a better way for me to move through the weekend. I was able to attend a Women’s March of my own in my state’s capital. It was amazing to be a part of something that fit into the bigger picture. Everyone standing together, advocating for equal rights–I’m going to remember that day forever.
As a result of the presidential election, 2017 was a whirlwind of emotions. From pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement to the country’s reaction, to natural disasters and the responses to various social justice movements and protests, it’s been an emotionally taxing year. Watching a president who appears to have no concern for what a large majority of the country wants was difficult.
In particular, another large-scale event that shaped how I felt during this year was the outpour of people who shared their personal accounts of being sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. It started a movement for men and women alike to come forward and share their stories, in hopes of destigmatizing sexual assault. So many people stepped forward, and men in powerful positions were forced to step down after facing the weight of their accusers. Actual changes were made.
On my own campus, things personally changed for me. Protests sprung regarding a Confederate statue, prompting the constant presence of a police officer. I was accepted into the School of Media and Journalism, a huge personal victory. The start of my future was set in stone. I started learning more about what I can personally handle after juggling work, school, extracurriculars and a social life. This year was all about learning more about myself. What I truly believe in, what I can handle and what my core values are. I’ve grown as a person.
Now, I’m more outspoken. I’m willing to share my thoughts and have a conversation about controversial issues without fear of how others will perceive me. I’ll call people out on problematic behavior that I don’t agree with. I’m a much more confident person now.
I’m not sure what this new year will take me. Maybe something dramatic will happen within the political climate. Maybe something will happen on my university campus. Maybe something personal will happen. Whatever it is– whatever happens–I’m ready to face it head-on.