What 2016 Taught Us

Written by Dana Jacoviello

Many have been making comments for a while now on how 2016 was the most horrible year ever. Complaining about all the horrible things that happened and how we could not wait until it ended. I happened to see it in a much different light. Probably not going to be a majority rule, but all in all, many might not agree. Yes, it was a year filled with disappointment, but that is not all that we had. Let’s be honest. There were plenty of amazing things that happened, which we must not forget.

I truly feel that 2016 was a deep learning experience for us as a whole and individually. Again, some might say they disagree. That statement is not wrong or right. Through the chaos, the craziness, the horrific events that took place, we saw a lot. Some things were more hidden than others, ignored, or we did not see as that bad until it was thrown in our face.

What we fail to see is that even in bad comes good. I know it is a hard concept to swallow, but I see it every single time a disaster takes place. Sometimes we do have to look for it or wait a while to see the outcome. Other times it is there, but through grief and mourning we are blinded, which is too be expected. It is always there, I promise you.

I saw several tweets with this perception. One stated that we keep complaining and do not give the world we live in enough credit. Let’s look from a new perspective. The tweet was right on the money. Are we focusing on what we have? Our health, our family, our friends, love, shelter, food, a job…the necessities we NEED, not just want. I would say this is a pretty good start if we have these things. I whole heartedly agree. The rest is luxuries.

We learned more than we are willing to admit. 2016 was not the only bad year we have ever had. There have been many. Some worse than others, but we can’t blame it on a year. We can just say, we want to get out of it.  Once in that negative mindset, it seems like a dark cloud is following us all over and things continue to knock us down and punch us in the gut.

That being said, it does not mean going into a new year will not have its new challenges. Life is going to happen. There is no stopping it. There will be trials and tribulations. There will be loss. There will be struggle and much more. But, there will also be some of those moments that just make you smile, laugh, and appreciate life. They will make you want to live life. It will never stand still. We have to count our blessings and see the good in each year. It is hard to say remain positive during difficult times. Nobody knows that sentiment better than myself. I will be the first to admit it.

2016 opened some interesting doors, and it also closed some. The first thing that comes to mind, without a doubt, is the election chaos. This is still going on in 2017. People are terrified and fearful for what will be taken away that are basic human rights for ALL, along with many other changes that some want to see and others do not want to see. We wonder what will become of our country and how and if we are going to be taken back too far after all we have overcome and worked towards. All valid, so what did we gain and learn you might ask? Why was it not SO bad? Let’s take a look:

We learned that we need to continue the fight against discrimination and racism. That fight is still not over. It brought it to the forefront more so in 2016 than ever before in the last decade. Now, this is my take on it. I am not saying it was not an issue before. I am simply saying people to not be hiding it anymore. We have become a world with much hatred. Sadly…but also love. Love outweighs the hate.

We learned that women can do anything just as men could. Gender bias is beginning to wither down. Women became stronger in many aspects of life. Equality is at the head of the conversation for all to be equal, as it should be. We learned just how women out there have been sexually assaulted, but better yet, how strong, brave, and courageous they are and willing to share their story to help another or possibly save a life.

We learned to pay attention to our health and take care of ourselves a bit more. We all need to work on that to some extent. 2016 certainly brought addiction and alcohol abuse to the table with those we lost to the tragic disease, which was many.

Bullying on and offline is an epidemic that we have seen in a much brighter light to know what we have to do in schools, workplace, and at home. Bullying and hateful acts take place anywhere and everywhere. Though we have been fighting this battle for years, there is still a great deal of work to be done. This is something that has been an ongoing issue, but in 2016, I think people saw just how serious it truly was and still is. Organizations like Bullies Keep Out, along with the various other amazing organizations out there work to fight against it every single day.

We learned just how much we need to band together in times of need. Acceptance has been on the rise. The LGBTQ community made amazing strides. We learned that a woman can run for presidency and win a popular vote to almost put her in that seat. There are no limits on what we are all capable of accomplishing.

Through turmoil, sadness, anger, and a plethora of other emotions, we learned how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken from us. We learned that we need to communicate more, less social media and more quality time, to be fearless, to take chances and risks, and to ask questions. Never stop asking questions. We lost far too many to suicide, which is also on the rise. ONE, is too many.

We learned there are good people and bad people, no matter what profession you work in. It is NOT ok to lump everybody together because you have some bad apples. Do not revolt, the good outweighs the bad. And it surely does. We have far more good people than bad people. That being said, we learned that people will commit amazing acts of kindness…even to strangers. Strangers became good friends, some best friends. There have been a number of beautiful moments captured in 2016 where you see just how incredible human beings are and can be to one another.

We learned through education and research while shining light on how important education is to our future generations. We learned how passionate people are in their beliefs. We learned much more about the diverse world we live in, which opened our eyes to what we might never have known. We learned a bit more about empathy, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness in our personal lives and thanks to the inspiration and motivation we find in the most unexpected of places.

We learned just how serious our climate control and environmental issues are. We learned kids are even more incredible than we ever imagined. We learned people will risk their lives for another. We learned to connect with new friends that we never thought we would have. Even ones we have yet to meet. The internet is a powerful tool to make these connections. We learned that a simple act of kindness can go a long way. We learned by coming together how big of an impact we can make. We learned churches and people of faith do not all condemn, hate, or discriminate.

We learned how loving animals can be more than we ever thought, and also what we can do to save their lives and endangered species from becoming extinct.

We learned we must be the change we want to see. We learned we must try to remain positive in the most critical situations. We learned to need to focus on more detrimental causes that are not at the forefront of conversations. We learned to grieve while sharing laughs to lighten the process.

At the end of the day, everything that happened or that we lost opened doorways and started new conversations. They went viral. It opened up discussions and healthy debates. It brought back passion in people to truly care about the world we live in, who runs it, and what we want. It opened us up to more change.

Yes, it was heartbreaking is ways that we will never forget, but we also became much more connected to each other. We became warriors that are willing to go to the ends of the earth to fight for what we believe in and be the change we want to see. We will take action, and continue our fight everything we fought so hard to obtain. The list continues on. I do not think I have mention all the beauty in 2016. I think we all know, we are just focusing on the bad.

I am not saying that 2016 was the only year we learned these things or they took place. Each year it is somewhat of a cycle we go through, but for some reason last year sticks out the most in frequency.

We can definitely say that in all this, we went from victims to survivors…and most importantly that we are stronger together.

Not let’s kicks ass and get to work and make sure 2017 better. We have a chance to be better and do better. We have a choice. No room for any form of bullying or hate. Nothing but love.

Live with love.

Peace, love, and light to all




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