I could’ve written and posted this piece at 12:01am on New Year’s Day. But, I wanted to wait. I wanted to analyze my 2016. I wanted to remember the highs and the lows, the moments when I had all the Instagram likes and when my phone was Sahara Desert dry. 2016 was the best year of my life, but for many others it was their worst. I wanted a piece to reflect that symmetry and showcase the beauty in the struggle.
Dude, Prince died. PRINCE. How do you get rid of Purple Rain? We lost a lot of great celebrities in 2016: Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, and let’s not forget the legend that is Muhammad Ali.
2016 taught me that life is short. It was humbling seeing the legends we grew up admiring struggling and eventually passing. As a child, you believed certain people were bigger than life. Prince was definitely that for me, and when I head he passed, it was an eye-opening experience.
Even if they are legendary, they’re still human. We like to put celebrities in this glass house, but then get upset when we can see the smears and cracks. I learned in 2016 that life is tough and always celebrate the legends.
I learned this over my four years at the University of Georgia, but it didn’t hit home until I was ready to leave this year. It’s always bigger than you. Your result is never the end game; it’s about the next person’s result. You should be setting the next person behind for success.
The most important thing anyone can do is positively affect their community. For me in 2016, that was my biggest struggle. I served my community at UGA, but I never really appreciated it until after I left. I took it for granted. I used to think it interfered with time I could’ve been making films and reporting stories.
Now, while I’m doing the latter, I miss serving my community. My biggest challenge to myself in 2017 is to find the balance. I learned in 2016 that personal gain is not more important than community.
It’s the terribly racist, sexist, spray-tanned, toupee’ wearing elephant in the room. He, who shall not be named, gave us all a reminder in 2016. As progressive and open we try to pretend America is, there is still a large section (48% of the popular vote to be exact) that wouldn’t agree with that rhetoric.
He preached hate, mocked a disabled reporter, lied at every turned and still became president. What do you tell kids now? It used to be if you worked hard, treated people with respect, and was a good person you will be rewarded.
Now, they see a bigot in office who got there by bullying and being dishonest. What message does that send? In 2016, hate won. Racists, Sexists, bigots, and all those who oppose equality in every sense of the word took their country back. I just hope in 2017, love can win again. I learned in 2016 that America is more divided than any of us ever knew.
I had the blessing in 2016 to chase my dream, and I’m living proof that you can have everything you ever wished for. No goal is too big or out of reach. If you’re passionate about it, chase it. Live, don’t just be alive.
Don’t settle in a job because it pays well. Of course, the money is nice, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. But, you shouldn’t deny yourself your dreams just because the paycheck looks good.
Additionally, you can’t let other deter or talk you out of your dreams. Is it risky? Absolutely. Is it time consuming and arduous? You bet it is. If you never chase your dream, you’ll always be left with that what if question, and nothing eats at your core more than the “what-if.”
If you can’t bet on yourself, who can you? In 2016, I learned that you can’t hide your gift from the world. It’s too selfish.