A Year In Review: Open Letter to 2016
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Politics and Activism

A Year In Review: Open Letter to 2016

Dear 2016: f*ck you, but also thank you.

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A Year In Review: Open Letter to 2016

Dear 2016,

This year flew by. I say that at the end of every year nowadays, because I guess as people get older each passing year seems to go by more and more quickly. But as I look back on how I felt a year ago, at the conclusion of 2015, it honestly does not feel like a whole year has gone by. I'm full of relief that you, 2016, have come to an end, though. I have a lot of mixed feelings about you. Many of them being negative. But not entirely. As many difficulties as the world, as well as I personally, have experienced this year, I can definitely say that I'm entering 2017 stronger and changed for the better. You've proven to be one of the most challenging years we've faced in a while. For me personally and for the world as a whole.

First of all, you took the lives of way too many amazing people that were gifts to our society. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, and most recently, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, as well as probably even more I didn't think to mention. Obviously not everyone may have had connections with or valued all of these people-- I'll admit I didn't know very much about some of them and that some of these people's deaths were more hard-hitting to me than others-- but you can't deny that they all famously made a positive impact on the lives of several.

Probably needless to say at this point, you showed us that someone who has no government experience behind him can say the most ridiculous, most hateful things that come to his mind just to see how far he can go with it, and end up being elected our president-- and that there are more people than many of us thought who are legitimately okay with that. With racism, sexism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and more, being in our government. At this time last year, I honestly never expected that Donald Trump would have made it this far. A year ago I was just laughing at his campaign and the idea of him actually being elected or even making it past the primaries, and not very worried about him doing anything, because it seriously never seemed likely to actually happen.

Which, I guess, brings me to my next point. You showed us that, even in our day and age, racism is still perpetuated-- and the belief that it ended long ago is still perpetuated. People are still being brutalized and murdered by police officers just for having darker skin, over things that they would not be brutalized and murdered over had they been white. People are dying in the capital of Syria as their city burns to the ground, and no one is talking about it in the way they were all talking about the attacks in France last year (which I witnessed the effects of firsthand, by the way, during my semester abroad)-- which as much as it sucks to say, is likely because these people are brown and not white. We still have to say "black and brown lives matter", and people still view that as a joke. You showed us that even as far as gay and trans rights have come, individuals who are anything but heterosexual can still be killed for it. A person can go into a nightclub full of LGBTQ+ folks and shoot 50 of them, and there are still people who in the name of "Christianity" are prejudiced enough to defend his ass and say things like "God sent that shooter" and "those people deserved it for being gay". (Which, by the way, gay is not even the only non-straight sexuality, and there are still a ton of folks who don't seem to understand that.)

You also showed us that sexual assault is still not taken as seriously as it should be. It's bad enough that rape culture still exists but there's the even worse fact that people still don't believe it does. A college student can rape a woman in a way as brutal as behind a dumpster, be caught by more than one eyewitness, have the assault explicitly described by said woman in front of the court, and still not get the prison sentence he deserves just because he's good at sports and "has a career ahead of him." A man can have multiple attestations of sexual harassment or assault against him by various women, even have a recording leaked of his own self making jokes about such things, and still be elected president. A young woman can be treated by her (ex) boyfriend in the some of the most disturbing ways one can think of, and not even realize until she describes his behavior to her friends and therapist that what he was doing was manipulative and bordering on sexual assault, simply because of the way our society is set up in regards to how sexual assault has a lot of grey areas that not enough people are made aware of, and many (but obviously not all) men have it ingrained in them that they just automatically have a right to violate a woman's body and trust as they please.

That young woman was me. 2016, you showed me that as much as I love and trust someone, in ways I never have for any other human being, that person will still take advantage of me as much as they want to, all while making me believe that they truly care about me. You also showed me that there are people I thought were friends who will judge and blame me for this, and that in general, people will up and ditch you no matter how much effort you may put into a friendship or relationship. 2015 had its fair share of difficulties too-- I went through something that caused me to reach a suicidal point, which as low of a point I may have hit in 2016 too, I cannot say the same happened this year. But I can truly say I was in a better place a year ago than I am now. I'd just recently had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of studying abroad (and visiting 6 different countries in the process of it), I had a relationship that I was genuinely happy in because it was still good and hadn't yet started to fall apart, and Trump hadn't yet been elected president.�

However, 2016, I am still grateful to you for a few things. You weren't entirely terrible. We got some blessings out of you too. We finally got a Finding Nemo sequel and a Full House sequel, as well as a movie that proved Harry Potter wasn't quite over just yet-- and in a way never truly is. We got Pokemon Go and Hamilton out of you, too, as well as a few great TV series like Stranger Things and The OA.

This year a lot of people's rights and fights for changes seem to have taken many steps back, but we achieved a lot of amazing societal breakthroughs as well. In 2015, we saw it finally become legal for people to marry whoever they want, and we still have that at the end of this year. We got to see a woman finally make it onto a presidential ballot, and have the opportunity to vote for her, even if she did not win. We also saw four women of color make it into political office in some way. I know that for those reasons I will still always remember this year's election in a somewhat positive light, no matter how devastating the outcome.

And for me personally, even if you took some people that were important to me (whether they died or just walked out of my life), you also gave me some other amazing folks. I've made a lot of awesome friends that I didn't know before 2016. I'm truly thankful to have all the people that I connected with this year in my life. I don't have my car anymore, unlike last year, but I do still have my wonderful job I had a year ago (which I'd just gotten at the time). I saw myself make it to my final year of college. I've rediscovered the freedom that comes from being single. I still have my family, my dog, my university, and most of my friends. My family's hamster died earlier this year, but recently we've made a part of our family a new hamster, who we love just as dearly.

Most importantly, 2016, I'm thankful to you for showing me how strong we all can be, and have to be at times. You gave us more roadblocks than any year has in a long time, but I've learned just how prevalent that I can be and that we as a society can be. You've prepared us well for 2017. Although in some ways I'm dreading going into 2017, there are other ways in which I can't wait to experience what it may have in store for us.

So fuck you, 2016, but also thank you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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