Thus ends 2016, a quite tumultuous year for myself, and for the world.
It’s been a year of great things, and sad things. A year of beginnings and of endings. A year of generalized and vague statements, but also of specific and memorable stories.
For the world, we saw unprecedented events - Brexit, the Paris Agreements, Trump as president-elect, and so on. And not everything is doom and gloom. We’ve had major technological and scientific breakthroughs, societal changes, and countless uplifting stories. There have been continued positive trends in health, economics, conservation, peace, etc. The world isn’t worse and the future isn’t dimmer - just different.
For me - I graduated from university. I moved back to Waterloo, and (kind of?) settled down for a year. It’s been a crazy year too, with high highs and (unforunately) low lows.
But you can find everything about the world online, so this post will be a reflection on my 2016.
Objectively, my third and final year in undergrad was my best and favorite year.
Socially, dinner club and parties were successes. I met a lot of wonderful people, and made lasting friendships and memories. I’m very thankful for that, and I’m happy that I had such a fun year, but also sad to leave everything behind.
However, life was always colored by the stress and anxiety of uncertainty. I was unsure what I wanted to do (I still am), and quite unhappy with what I was doing. I definitely didn’t give school my all, and put off a lot of urgent responsibilities. Sometimes the stress would get to me, and I think all these influences made for a rollercoaster of a year.
I’m glad to have had such wonderful friends and a great support network. Nonetheless, these few months were defined by very happy moments and very painful moments, often intermixed.
A New Beginning
Starting over at home is different. I’m solidly a big city person - and the small town feel of Waterloo region is not something I enjoy.
It did, however, give me the opportunity to work on myself relatively free from outside influences. And supposedly away from stress.
However, my uncertainty didn’t really go away. If anything, it got worse. At least I had a clear objective before, while now I had all the time to pursue what I wanted.
And unfortunately, too much time can be paralyzing.
It wasn’t all bad. I did take the time to try and figure myself out, and try and improve myself. Perhaps a better environment would have helped - being (mostly) alone in a different city meant I had to figure it out myself. But on the other hand, it meant that anything I did, I knew that it was for me, and internal motivation would last no matter where I was.
The State of the World
The giant divisive issue in Canada and North America right now is undoubtedly the election of Trump. Preface that I am not a Trump supporter, but the amount of judgement and hate disappoints me.
This year has been filled with so much hate and divisiveness, though not only about the election. Maybe it’s an increasing sensitivity of mine, but through Facebook, Reddit, McGill, even in real life, the partisanship of various communities saddens me.
It’s an issue that I keep seeing on most sides of many issues (super generalistic, I know). It seems that, more than ever, broad sweeping generalizations are used to characterize arguments, and they have been overwhelmingly negative. It’s so easy to base and end a debate on, or to make it about character and emotions, that the facts and truths about any particular issue are almost meaningless.
Technology and modern society doesn’t help - it’s so easy to surround yourself with the same type of people, and the same continuous thoughts and ideas. Sites are designed to algorithmically feed people the exact articles they want to hear. And dissent is often quashed by the same divisiveness and hate - disagreements can be blocked and ignored, or demonized to such a point that it is easier to hide.
It’s too easy to attack someone as a racist, a SJW, a libtard, a misogynist - labels that carry such negative connotations that they label itself becomes the debate.
Along with this comes the idea that everyone’s thoughts and feelings being just as valid as expert opinions, scientific fact, and actual news. There’s been a sense of disbelief in authority, perhaps best seen by the rise of populist candidates. Mainstream media, analysis by professionals in the field, and research and evidence based data can now be swept under the rug.
I don’t know how to solve these problems, and I don’t know what I can do. I wish we could discuss issues and keep it civil and about the facts. I wish elections were about policy. I wish people would love each other more. But these are just wishes.
This could probably be a longer topic, but this is my general feeling about the state of the world. Scientifically, technologically, we’re all better than ever. There’s a lot of great things happening, and a lot of potential. I’m just disappointed in many of the human parts.
And I know that I’m self-censoring too, because some opinions and topics should be avoided. Many issues are so emotionally driven, and disagreeing is hard. Easier not to talk about it - which leads to another slew of issues.
Hey, I graduated!
On a more personal note, I think I have become more self-aware. Being challenged with lack of defined goals and motivation has forced me to analyze myself, in an effort to be better.
I think I’m much more understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.
I’d like to think I understand my unhappiness better, and that I know my motivations and dreams. I can better define my core values, and have a greater understanding of the generalistic ideals that drive me.
I think I learned a lot, but that’s not something particularly exciting. I honed some of my skills, and developed others.
And I think I know what to do next - now the hard part is the doing, but that’ll be something to continuously work on.
I wish I tried harder, did things earlier, took more chances, yadda-yadda. The classic generic regrets.
More specifically, I wish I dealt with my problems better. I have a knack for starting projects and making plans I can’t finish. There’s so many things I worked on for a little bit that I wish I committed to more, and finsihed.
I wish I had more discipline, and that I could work harder. I wish that I would get off Reddit and Facebook, or whatever distraction took my fancy at the time.
I wish I was less paralyzed by fears - that I took more risks and procrastinated less. I wish I could reach out for help easier, that I could try hard and admit failures, and so on.
I wish I started many things earlier, that I had more time to succeed, and that I was already stronger now, but I still believe that it’s never too late.
But all of these are things that can, and will change. Sure, I’ve failed (many times) already, but hey, hope springs eternal. And I won’t accept defeat.
I’ve been reading a lot of self-help (LOL). Some have some good lessons, others great ones, and I’ve been trying to incorporate these.
I’ve been trying to be a better person. As always, a work in progress.
I’m still learning, and hopefully will be ready (soon) to embark on the next journey of my life.
I know - as long as it’s just plans, it doesn’t mean much. I have to actually do. And so many times I’ve failed.
Doesn’t make it not worth trying again.
But 2017 will be a new year. Full of new opportunities, and a change to be someone new. That’ll be the next post in a week - plans and hopes for 2017.
And I hope that when we next meet, we’ll both better.