Looking Back at 2015

Last year, I wrote an end of the year blog post in which I talked enthusiastically about seven happy things about to happen in 2015. At the time, I assumed 2015 would be filled with reading, running, and writing. Well, then 2015 wound up being more like this:

  1. Watch everyone in my high school tear each other apart (and spend an afternoon wondering if we'd get torn apart).
  2. Write an awkwardly personal op/ed (multiple, actually), revealing to everyone I'm a survivor, and deal with the resulting chaos.
  3. Part with Jon Stewart, leaving us to deal with this dude alone.
  4. Watch the 49ers and the Oakland A's combust.
  5. Spend hours fighting against a seemingly bulletproof administration.
  6. Give awkwardly personal quotes for articles and deal with that resulting chaos.
  7. Watch everyone shoot each other, including shooting 12-year-olds, and get away with it.

Of course, there were many positives mixed in (see photo gallery at the end of this post for a more varied version), but overall, 2015 was less than ideal. To summarize how my year went with one story, it began positively with Jameis Winston (you know, this guy) getting deservedly humiliated by the Oregon Ducks, and concluded with him being the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft and almost leading his team to the playoffs as if nothing ever happened.

So what is there to say about 2016? Will things be any better? Maybe. I hope so.

In an effort to delude myself into thinking the U.S. will get its shit together despite our impending joke of a national election and that I'll cruise effortlessly through my year, I'm going to make another list of seven things I'm looking forward to:

  1. Finishing my novel. (If I say this twenty times, it'll happen.)
  2. Swimming.
  3. Watching the A's have a less-ugly season (please?).
  4. Reading Harry Potter in Spanish just because.
  5. Really, really learning how to use Twitter.
  6. Finishing House on Netflix.
  7. Actually running that 3.8 mile thing I mentioned last year but never got around to doing.

But listen, I can't make 2016 a better year alone. It's up to all of us to push ourselves to be better human beings, to go out of our way to be kinder, conscious, and compassionate. We can control the election (vote if you can, even if you don't love either of the candidates). We can control social media. We can control our behavior.

It's 2016. Screw Trump — it's up to us to make the world great again.


Write It on Your Heart (January 6, 2015)

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last year, I wrote a blog post called "Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial: The Five Stages of College Decision Grief." I wrote it as a high school junior watching the seniors around me crumble as they were hit with decision after decision. I expressed my hatred for what this application process does to us. We are conditioned to hate ourselves based on our rejections. We feel worthless when we don't get into X school, but that one really, really annoying kid does instead.

And as someone who just finished "going through the process" (which I know sounds like I'm talking about genetically modified food, not myself), I understand even more how powerful that pressure is. I consumed more mint chip milkshakes in the week before the early deadline than there were days.

But here's the thing: what if we all take a time out? I know January 1 is now out of the way and many of you high school students are done yelling at the error messages on the Common App, but the air is still filled with so much stress about decisions to come, about that one typo you know was still there when you hit "submit" ... but what if we put all of that aside? What if all of you adults out there put the stress in your life aside?

During the craziness of October before the early deadline (when, no surprise, my blogging stopped for a while), I made a list of things I wanted to do this year when college apps and finals were over. I don't want to call them New Year's Resolutions, though. (Freudian slip -- I typed "Near Year's Resolutions" at first -- which highlights why I hate the term, because I only get near my goals instead of reaching them.) I will instead call this a list of random fun things I want to do this year:

  1. Learn how to read sheet music
  2. Double the amount of time I spend writing (thank you for allowing me to do that, senioritis!)
  3. Read more books for pleasure again (goodbye, standardized testing passages!)
  4. Go to a random A's game (because why not?)
  5. Sleep 8 hours a night
  6. Paint
  7. Run Campus Drive (3.8 miles)

So what will you do for fun this year? Think of things! Make it about you. No matter how crazy your life is, you deserve to do something that serves no purpose other than making you happy. Here's to a great 2015!