2016 was far from an easy year for most of us. Messages of hate flooded our television screens, images of mass casualty became a part of our daily news, and many of us had begun to wonder when the horror would come to an end. While many people reflect on 2016 with these unfortunate events, I like to think of the love that 2016 brought us instead. It seems crazy at first, I know. How could so much agony and pain make you think of love? 2016 was a test for all of us. As people, we had the choice between letting the pain and hatred we've become so exposed to consume us, or we could allow love into our hearts instead. In the end, I believe that in 2016 love triumphed in the end.

Without tragedy and heartache, people would never appreciate the love in their lives. There was love when the world stopped to mourn the lives that were lost in the attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Orlando. There was love when the Orlando Regional Medical Center waivered the medical expenses for the survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. There was love when people gathered to protect the sacred grounds of the Sioux tribe from being destroyed by corporate drilling. There was love when a white police officer hugged and comforted an African American teenager after seeing the terror in his eyes after during a routine pull over. There was love when the people forced the media and government to pay attention to the war horrors that were occurring in Syria and Aleppo. There was even love when the people of this country chose to stand together rather than let politics divide us into war.

In my personal experience, 2016 was a year of growing pains. I fell in love and had my heart broken. I tried new things and traveled to new cities. And I made the decision to become the person I truly am rather than the person others want me to become. They are all things that are common in growing up, and I think I did more of that in 2016 than in any other year of my life.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, star and creator of the musical "Hamilton", wrote a sonnet before accepting his Tony Award saying:

"We chase the melodies that seem to find us.

Until they're finished songs and start to play

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day.

This show is proof that history remembers

We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;

We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside."

2016 proved that even through the most devasting of times, love will always find a way. For because it is love, it cannot be destroyed, for it is the only thing on Earth that is eternal.