This year has probably seen me through the most changes, in just about every part of my life. I learned how to say no to things (and people). I like myself a lot more. I have so many wonderful loved ones to share things with. 2016 was really beautiful in a lot of ways, notwithstanding all of its tragedies.
So first a quick recap of the good things: Early in the year, I had one of my best semesters course-wise. I decided to study abroad instead of graduate a semester early. I made a couple new friends that are so dear to me now. I won a very large amount of money from Temple to finance the aforementioned study abroad adventure. I presented my work at two academic conferences at Temple. I returned to Harvard for a second summer of research and professional development. I decided that I wanted to take a year (or more) in-between undergrad and a PhD program. I applied for a Fulbright US Student grant to Montréal. I moved to Paris to study at Sociology and Comparative Literature for four months. I got much better at French. I made more lovely friends abroad. I got to visit quite a few countries in Europe. I learned how to love things about myself that I used to feel bad about. I moved into a beautiful old home with two great housemates in Brewerytown.
Last year, there were three deaths in my close family and I was away from home for all of them so that was hard.
And then there was the Pulse shooting. I hadn’t expected something like that could happen let alone during Pride season when myself and so many other queers were out clubbing that time of year. I was in a gay club in Boston the same night and only heard about it the next morning. The only consolation was that I realized just how deep and caring my network of queer friends really is, the deluge of support and check-ins were a really beautiful reminder of how important it is to be there for each other.
Studying abroad was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my 21 and a half year old life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lived in Paris for a short while and finally make a serious effort to learn the language that I had been dabbling with for a few years. My time abroad was also marked by a strong bout of Paris malaise, coupled with the events of our election season and a decent fit of seasonal depression. So all of that was pretty difficult, but in retrospect I don’t think ruined my experience overall. All in all, I’m still not yet ready to process everything that happened in these last four months but I look forward to that eventually.
I am equal parts excited and anxious for what this year has in store. So many big things are happening to me, from graduating college to supposedly finding a post-grad thing to perhaps even applying to PhD programs. But there’s also so much potential bad stuff with our political trash fire, not to mention the augmented air of violence towards marginalized that is permeating everything now. I hope that I don’t get hate-crimed. We might not even have hate crime laws still in 4 years.
So here’s to 2016 being mostly good but also really shitty at times. As I get older, I get the impression that it’s kind of how this life thing goes.