With 2016 nearing the end (thank Jeebus!), I have been doing a lot of reflecting on the year. I have come to the conclusion that it has been pretty crappy for a multitude of reasons. But I have also realized that not all of it has been bad. There have been some pretty monumentally awesome things that have happened this year and I think it is very easy to overlook those things because of all the crap that has happened.
One enormous lesson that I have learned this year is that every situation is what you make of it. If you want to be miserable and sad all the time, you will find a way to make that happen. If you want to be happy and radiate positivity, you will also find a way to make that happen, but ultimately the decision is yours. You steer your own canoe!
Here is a list of some really awesome things that happened in 2016 in case you were too busy feeling shitty about the year to realize them!
- 2016 was an amazing year for music!
Holy shiiiiiit. We had some great music come out this year and it wasn’t just limited to the artists I have above. Frank Ocean came out of hiding and brought us the long awaited, Blond. If you haven’t seen the video for the song Nikes, do yourself a favor and click this link. Visual masterpiece right there, especially the glitter booty smack 😉 Speaking of visual masterpieces, I can’t write about 2016 music without mentioning Beyoncé’s album Lemonade and the short film that accompanied it. If you aren’t a fan of the QUEEN, beat it! You have no business reading this blog. Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, also released an album this year called A Seat at the Table, and it was equally amazing. All of the videos so visually stunning and the lyrics were so carefully crafted. Kid Cudi just released an album called Passion, Pain, and Demon Slayin’. I’ve always been a tried and true fan of his, even through all of his experimentation. His album brings back some of the old Cudi that his A1’s love, but he still takes on a bit of a new sound with this album. I’ve spoken about Chance the Rapper before, but if you haven’t listened to Coloring Book, go do it, NOW. I’ve also written about my love for Grouplove, a few times on this blog. If you haven’t checked them out, DO IT NOW.
- DAPL Halted
After months of protesting and little popular media coverage, the Dakota Access Pipeline construction was halted and they are exploring other alternative routes that do not interfere with water systems on Native American land. This was a hard fought battle, that honestly I didn’t believe would end this way. But boy did it feel amazing when it did! It felt like not only a victory for Standing Rock, but for all the Native American people who have fought all these years for the rights to their land and their lives. This was one very proud 2016 moment.
- We had our first female presidential candidate
Even to this day, looking at pictures from the election makes me tear up a bit. But I’ve found the ability to be extremely proud of the fact that Americans chose Hillary Clinton. She fought so hard for all of us and even though she didn’t win the ultimate prize, think of the inspiration she instilled in so many people for generations to come. She not only inspired people who wouldn’t have probably voted for her in the first place, but she looked America in the face and said, we’ve got work to do, but we’ve got a great foundation to build upon. Hillary’s campaign meant something and that something doesn’t end here. She has given us all a reason to fight for each other and each other’s best interest. History has been made.
- NASA’s Juno Spacecraft
Guys. NASA launched a mission this year called Juno and it is going to figure out everything there is to know about Jupiter. We don’t know a whole lot about Jupiter, but we want to find out more. And that cutie Juno is going to help us figure all of it out. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Also it is one of a kind because it uses only solar panels, which is way more efficient for space travel and information gathering, HOW COOL!
- The first Refugee Olympic team
Look at those cuties in RIO! A team of 10 refugees from all over the globe were selected to compete in Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics. This was so incredible! Solidarity is a beautiful thing. Although the team didn’t win any medals, they had a wonderful time competing and their inclusion was such a huge step for a formerly tight wad, snooty boy’s club like the IOC.
- America has the lowest unemployment rate in 9 years
In November 2016, US employers added 178,000 jobs, which brought the unemployment rate to 4.6%. This is the lowest it has been since 2007, which is amazing! Peeps got jobs! I remember when I was starting college, my parents had a talk with me about picking a high needs career path, which was part of the reason I decided to be a teacher. People will always need teachers, so I knew I would be set. At the time, the unemployment rate was pretty high and my older sister was near graduating college. The job search was not an easy process for her. It makes me happy to think that the employment opportunities are broadening. I know a lot of people who lost their jobs when the economy went to shit a few years ago, and after years of being unemployed they are back in the game. Lots of smiles for that!
- Leo DiCaprio finally wins an Oscar
All memes aside, LEO FINALLY WON! This was long overdue. I believe he is one of the best actors of our time. I don’t have a problem saying that. He finally won an Oscar for his role in the film The Revenant where he gets fucked up by a bear. Congrats Leo! Now you have an Oscar to beat a bear with if it tries to attack you again!
- Teen Pregnancy is the lowest it has ever been in the US
Teen birth rates are at a record low in 2016, falling below 25 births per 1,000 teens (ages 15-19). This is pretty awesome because unwanted pregnancy isn’t a good look for anyone. The Obama administration has made contraceptives more readily available for teens and although sex ed in schools has a long way to go, it is getting better. Shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant have also been credited with helping the rate drop because teens are seeing first hand the struggles that come along with having a child during their teenage years. Abstinence isn’t the only way, knowledge is power teens!
- All Gender Restrooms
A bunch of businesses around the US were awesome and converted/added all-gender restrooms to their establishments, which is such a step in the right direction! Of course it would be awesome if we could all just pee wherever we felt like we wanted to without fear of retaliation from idiots, but we’re getting there. This is progress!
- The Paris Agreement
There’s a lot of information about The Paris Agreement, but I’ll give you a little run down in case you missed it. Basically, a bunch of countries got together in Paris to talk about climate change. The fact that this happened in the first place is really cool. 196 countries signed the agreement into action, which basically stated that we have to do something about slowing climate change. 196 countries! And they weren’t just developed countries, there were lots of developing countries present who signed the agreement as well. The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to use green ways to slow climate change. Of course, no agreement is perfect and there has been a lot of criticism over this one, as with many in the past. BUT, how cool is it that 196 countries all agreed that our planet is being destroyed and we need to all pitch in to help stop it? This is some We Are the World shit. Anything unifying at this point is a win for me.
- The UN appointed the first LGBT rights investigator
Look at how cute this lil guys is! And think about how monumental this is for LGBTQ+ people of the world. We are finally being recognized as having needs. It has been a long time coming for sure, but we are finally on a global scale being represented by the human rights sector of the United Nations. Vitit Muntarbhron was elected by the United Nations to help investigate hate crimes, discrimination, and abuse of LGBTQ+ people all over the globe for the next three years. He is an extremely accomplished international law professor from Thailand and has worked for the UN before. This is such a step in the right direction!
- Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the US $20 bill
Who knows what the actual new $20 will look like, but Harriet Tubman sure does look good against a green backdrop. Holy shit people! We are finally going to have a female on our national currency, and better yet, a female of color! And even better, a female of color who strove to defeat racism and slavery is replacing one of the biggest racists in United States history, Andrew Jackson! Oh happy day! Harriet is surely spinning in her grave this year. I hope she haunted the shit out of Andrew Jackson!
- The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary
The National Park Service started back in 1916, and this year the service turned 100! It is so cool to me that even back in 1916 people in this country understood how important it was to preserve our land and enjoy our land. There are officially 59 National Parks in the United States. The fact that we have been able to preserve an entity that looks after the care of our land for 100 years is very impressive to me. Let’s keep on keeping on!
- The Giant Panda has officially been moved off the endangered species list
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! Look how cute they are! They no longer have to fear eventual extinction! I’m so happy for them! They have been moved to the vulnerable species list, but at the end of the day, aren’t we all vulnerable? Mad props to China for their aggressive conservation efforts. We see you and we are looking forward to seeing lots of baby pandas for years to come!
See! 2016 wasn’t all bad! Of course there were some really shocking and horrifying and crushing things that happened this year, but there were also many things to smile about. It is okay to look back on 2016 and want it to end. I think any chance for a “clean slate” feels good to most people, but remember that without 2016 none of the things on this list would have happened. Be happy and proud that they did. Positivity is out there, sometimes you’ve just got to dig beneath the surface to find it 🙂