The start of a new year and a fresh semester always gets me thinking about where I’ve been and where I’m going. For me, this year is going to be filled with some huge lasts and some even more significant firsts. Monday was one of each: my last first day of college (for the foreseeable future, anyway).
To use the words of Liz Lemon, “life is happening”…and it’s happening really fast. I’m excited, impatient, uncertain and terrified all at once. I find that the world feels a little less logical and a little more uncertain since the election of Donald Trump.
If I lived inside a bubble, I’d tell you that 2016 was the best year ever. My high school sweetheart proposed to me, I adopted a crazy little dog and I found myself running the paper I have loved since my freshman year.
If I choose to be satisfied with the fact that things are going well in my life despite what’s going on elsewhere, I’d tell you that 2017 is going to be even better. I get to marry my best friend, I’ll graduate college, pass on this paper to live another year, hopefully start my career and I’ll have a permanent home address.
However, we cannot survive inside a bubble. I know things are uncertain right now, and I know myself well enough to say that I will stand up for what I believe in and for the rights of others outside of my white, lower-middle class bubble if the time comes.
I strive to be a little more like Meryl Streep, who recently used her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes to advocate for a free press and for a world where bullying the disabled is not tolerated.
She could have gone up there, thanked her friends, family and coworkers and moved on. Many of those who disagreed with her words lashed out saying she has no business bringing politics into entertainment. Those comments sounded a lot like “we could care less about your brain Meryl, zip it and entertain us” to me.
Her speech brought me a little bit of comfort as an american and as a journalist that there are brilliant, strong people out there willing to put themselves out there to fight for what is right.
I hope this year brings out the best in us in the way that much of 2016 brought out the worst. I hope that people, young and old, are able to find comfort and purpose from the words of strong women like Meryl Streep and Michelle Obama, and follow in their footsteps.
In her last speech as the first lady, Michelle Obama said to the young people of this nation “don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be Hopeful. Be Empowered.”
I’ve taken those words to heart, and plan to do just that. If you haven’t listened to the whole speech, I highly recommend you do so.
In this crazy world, nothing is certain. That would be true no matter who was elected. It does us no good to hide in a bubble. Fear can be paralyzing, but only if we allow it to be.
When people ask me if I have a New Year’s resolution, I tell them it’s to fit into my wedding dress, but I think I’ll make another. This year I want to embrace these firsts and lasts at full force. I want to kick fear out the window and be focused, determined, hopeful and empowered.
Here’s to 2017.