It’s pretty safe to say that 2016 is a time most of us would rather forget. A lot has happened in the past year, and it’s become harder and harder to be thankful in the light of the losses, atrocities, and social and political events that have taken place. But not everything was doom and gloom; as one last present to you this Christmas, we’re giving you some of the good things that happened in 2016, and some reasons why you should still remain hopeful, compassionate, and grateful as we wave goodbye to another year.
All Time Low opening for blink-182
It might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was pretty awesome seeing one of my favorite bands opening for one of their favorite bands. All Time Low has worked long and hard to get where they are in the scene right now and watching them open for one of their earliest influences, the pop punk veterans in blink-182, was special. It was a reminder that dreams can come true, that hard work and dedication pays off, and that a shared love for dirty jokes can get you anywhere. As someone who struggled a lot with achieving career goals this year, it gives me hope that one day I can be just as successful in my dreams as ATL was in theirs (though maybe I’ll leave the dirty jokes at home the next time I go for an interview). (Sam Devotta)
2016 Ray of Light
I started this entry several times. It was hard to think of a ray of light from 2016 that applied to all of us. I could think of one or two triumphs for some people, several for that group, and a few for myself. Those were easy to see; even when what seems like a bright light to some feels like dark uncertainty to others. The first ideas that came to mind centered on the ways our hidden pains have risen to the surface this year. We now see each other’s struggles, which means we might be ready to heal one another—at least those who believe we are an “us”.
Thoughts along those lines gave me pause; they’re so negative and I am, at my core, hopeful. I didn’t always know this about myself. It wasn’t until I realized my phone rings most when someone needs to be encouraged; the knocks on my door are loudest when someone needs a light turned on to illuminate a possibility, comfort in sadness, or to help ignite a flame within themselves. And I get those same things in return, not because anyone owes me anything, but because I am surrounded by people who turn the lights on for me when I am lost in dark uncertainty.
Therefore my ray of light from 2016 shines into 2017. It’s YOU. Forget about the walls, and the shades, and the different words we use for love. You have that choice. You can hate and be trapped inside it. Or you can switch the lights on for someone else, grab a hold of a hand, and feel the lights turn on in you. And pass it on. (Sherin Nicole)
Leicester City and the Chicago Cubs
2016 was a year where it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. The hint came right at the end of 2015 when we lost Lemmy of Motorhead, and that was followed all too swiftly with Bowie’s death. After that, well we all know what happened. More deaths, Brexit, the election nightmare—it was not a great year. But in the world of sports, on two sides of the Atlantic, a few teams were determined to prove that anything is possible. I’m no Chicago fan. On the contrary, this Englishman loves the Detroit teams in all of the major American sports because I lived in Michigan when I first came to the USA, for nearly eight years. That said, it was impossible not to get behind the Cubbies, alongside Bill Murray, for the World Series, unless you were a Cleveland fan (let’s not talk about the racist mascot here. CofGetridofitCof). 108 years between championships—Cubs fans had no idea what a World Series win felt like until this year.
But even that paled in comparison to what happened in England. It’s tough to get across to Americans just how unlikely it was that Leicester City would win the Premier League, but I’ll try. The reason it often gets lost in translation is that British soccer operates with a tier system. There are 92 teams in the four professional leagues. Top of the pile is the Premier League, with the Championship underneath that, then League One, then League Two. The team that finishes top of the Premier League is the national champion. The three teams that finish bottom of the premier league are relegated to the Championship, with three teams gaining promotion from the Championship to the Premier League at the same time. This system works down through the four divisions. The team that finishes bottom of League Two does indeed drop down into the non-league system and often faces financial ruin. It’s brutal, but fair.
As with the Cubs, I’m no Leicester fan but I got carried along for the ride last year. Leicester City was a Championship club for years until winning promotion in the 2013/14 season. At the end of the 2014/15 season, it survived relegation from the Premier League by the skin of its teeth on the final day of the season. A year later, Leicester won the Premier League. The club was 5000/1 shots, according to the bookies. This was a greater shock than the Cleveland Browns or my own Detroit Lions hypothetically winning a Super Bowl. This was a greater shock than the Cubs win, because no matter how bad things got for them, the Cubs were never relegated to the minor leagues. Leicester was and is a team made up of misfits, pros who didn’t make it at more glamorous clubs. But they somehow formed a team capable of winning one of the biggest competitions in world sports.
That’s what it’s all about. You don’t have to like sports to enjoy the achievements of the Cubs and Leicester City. But these two teams proved, in the same calendar year mind, that anything is possible. And in doing so, they gave me my ray of light. (Brett Callwood)
The healing power of music
2016 didn’t give us much in the way of good; but it’s an unwritten rule that in difficult times, music will reach out and provide. When friends walk away, when loved ones leave this world, when bad things happen to good people and you’re feeling less than content with the way your life is going—music will always be there to hold your hand in the dark. To provide solace in a time of sorrow, to help you channel your anger and confusion, to uplift you when you need to smile most. Good, bad, and everything in between, there’s a song for that, and I’ll never stop being grateful for the creative artists out there who can express how I’m feeling better than I can.
Hearing fresh new music from the bands I grew up listening to reminded me of how I used to feel back then; when I believed one band could change the world, when hearing one song could turn the whole day around, when music mattered more than anything. For the record, that’s all still true—but it’s something I needed to be reminded of. And discovering new bands who make music for these very reasons, who still believe in its power, gives me hope for the future. It’s been very easy to become jaded after everything that’s happened and everyone we’ve lost in music this year, but it’s comforting to know that we were united in our sorrow for these lost legends, and that their music and our love for them will live on through the ages. And the greatest beacon of hope shining through for me is that there is still music out there that brings me back to why I got involved in music in the first place, that can take me away from all the worrying things going on in the world just for a moment, and can make me believe that things will get better. (Alex Bear)
In their eight years of office, Barack Obama and Joe Biden not only enacted a multitude of policy changes, but also showed the country true bromance goals. From making friendship bracelets together, to sharing copious amounts of ice cream, it was only inevitable that the internet would take that and create imaginary conversations with Biden out to prank Trump. Who couldn’t love this political dynamic duo that provides an escape from the reality of the election results? Anyways, I’m still here trying to find someone who’ll look at me the same way Biden looks at Obama. And wishing that they could have a third term at the White House. #joebama2016. (Emily Yee)
Starting this year, I remember feeling broken and bruised from the year before it. But if 2015 was the ex you never want to see again, 2016 is the ex you file a restraining order on and move 3000 miles away from. Hospital visits, broken relationships, and a blurry life picture put me on notice that it was all downhill from here. Everyone around me was on a similar downward spin. Hell, the world itself was on a downward spin. Possibly the worst political campaign in our history raged on while we were intent on making it an internet story, a good meme, a reality show—big mistake. In a year that took from us some of our heroes like Alan Rickman, Bowie, & Prince, robbed us of our safe places by way of shootings at a concert and a gay nightclub, brought with it multiple terrorist attacks and the destruction of Hurricane Matthew, it seemed like the last thing we needed was an intolerant national leader—but that’s exactly what we got.
We will never again be the people we were before this year. Regardless of how 2016 went for you, of your political stance, of who you’ve loved and lost, of where you were when these detrimental events took place, it has changed us as people. That’s the ray of light in the travesty that was this year. Through every crappy situation, terrible event, or feeling of absolute doom, there’s been something to take away. We’ve come together to support and help each other like never before. Look at the countless donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood, or the solidarity from those wearing safety pins and offering to walk with minority classmates on campus. Think of the hospital that didn’t bill the survivors of the Pulse shooting. Consider how many articles you’ve read on where to make your voice heard, where to donate your time and spare cash, how to make the world just a little better for those who have it worse than you since June, since October, since November. I know I’ve seen quite a few. The biggest lesson the human race has learned this year is tolerance and acceptance, even if that’s not always evident.
Personally, I’ve finally let go of strings better left to fray and watched a two year relationship crash, burn, and end. I’ve seen my vision of myself and my goals disappear for what seemed like forever, only to finally resurface again exactly how I left them. I’ve lost people and met new ones, I’ve redefined bonds I’ve had all my life, I’ve seen countless family members and friends stand on the brink of death and I’ve seen some that didn’t make it back, I’ve seen friends’ lives change forever, I’ve watched new friends go as quickly as they came, but more than anything I’ve learned. I’ve learned to be cautious, I’ve learned how to be okay by myself, I’ve learned what I want out of life, and I’ve remembered who I am. I’ve grown up a lot in the past 365 days, and as terrible as they were, I wouldn’t rewrite them. These are the kinds of years that kick your ass and leave you out on the street with nothing but tears in your eyes, and force you to grow up and become who you really are. I look forward to 2017, to the people and things in it, because no matter what it throws at me—or at you—we all have gained something from this year that’s made us strong, a ray of light that’ll help us through the rest of our lives. (Emillie Marvel)