Since November 13th, when John Oliver christened 2016 as a rotten year, so many in the press and on social media have been following suit, calling the year “the worst” and happy to kick it in the pants as it leaves our lives. I have little idea why this trend began. Yes, Trump was elected, which is horrifying, and we endured terror attacks, which are more horrifying, and we lost beloved celebrities. Also, people of color suffered at the hands of police, but this gave rise to the BLM movement. Overall, these types of events are not so different from those that have unfolded in years before 2016.
2016 was the first year whose progress I consciously decided to track in my life. I wrote a post about it last January, calling it The Year of Why Not You, an ode to Russell Wilson’s father encouraging him to go for great achievements, even if he was a nobody in the football world. And so that’s how I approached the months that followed. I worked my behind off writing and submitting, I worked for clients designing and maintaining their yards. Spring was warm, summer was hot, fall was cool. During those months, I had hits and misses with writing. I was rejected by about 20 agents, looked closely at by a few, placed well in a novel competition, and had a few short pieces published. Meanwhile, I gained new gardening clients. I failed in keeping up with two blogs, but hey, I did devote some time to my kids. We went to the beach and playgrounds and took a trip to Chicago. I even managed to have a few date nights with my husband and friends. Meanwhile, the Cubs had a banner season and won the World Series.
During this time, Obama was still our president. I was under the impression we’d break the glass ceiling with Clinton. I felt overjoyed at the gains in renewable energy. The Paris Agreement had been solidified. Yes, there was trouble with ISIL, but they were weakening and that was cause for more celebration than the press gave it. Instead, the news focused on the injustices and misfortunes of the world, which it always does. And of which there are plenty. But I took hope in that millenials, more than any other generation, are finding little tolerance for those old-fashioned, unthoughtful ways of behaving. Our generation will be replaced by more considerate, tolerant, peace-loving people in coming decades and centuries.
And yet, we talk of this year like it was an alcoholic, homeless cousin that showed up and trampled over our homes and well beings. It wasn’t. The sun shone — a lot. Americans woke up in a non-warring country every day, even if we did have to drag ourselves to stressful jobs that we hated. Very few people were shot at or murdered (in comparison to the larger population). So, why are we treating this year like it was so terrible? It was a typical year with a fair share of heartbreaks and losses and most of all, a dismal electoral outcome.
And that’s the rub. It seems to me, that’s all, at least progressive types, remember. People don’t realize the terrible year hasn’t even started yet. It starts when Trump takes office. He IS that alcoholic, homeless cousin who moves in and tramples over people’s lives. He does whatever he wants and rarely suffers the consequences. With that in mind, I will remember 2016 with great fondness because 2017, ultimately, is when the true hardships begin.