A Reflection Upon 2016.

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Where do I begin?

2016 was a dark year for many, so much so that there are articles popping up every hour proclaiming how cruel it truly was.

But how could it be that everyone, in the entire universe, experienced a shitty year? How could a numbered period of time define how good or bad one’s year goes?

It’s the way you look at it, I think. And it’s the domino effect of hearing others complain about how rough their year has been.

This is going to be a raw reflection of my 365 days of 2016. Free-writing is good for the soul (try it some time.) Let the free-writing commence!

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The first crucial thing I remember from this year was quitting my part-time job as a cashier at the bookstore. I was there for nearly three years. In those three years, I’ve learned so many things: how to speak up, how to lead, and how to handle ruthless customers!

But the timing was important. It was my last semester of college, and I wanted to focus on ending my academic career on a solid note as well as pursue real-world experiences.

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Spring of ’16 was a beautiful time. I finally signed up for classes that tickled my interests and I fully engaged myself in class discussions. I recognized the best of my abilities and put them to use academic wise. I made more time for friends and made the most of my last days. I left my alma mater with good laughs, pride, and great memories.

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Summer was the season of transition. I didn’t feel like I had much of a summer. I started working Monday to Friday two weeks after graduating. But I was proud of myself. After months of applying and interviewing for real world jobs I wasn’t sure I was ready for, I eventually landed my first 9 to 5. Boy, was I proud.

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I’m not sure what happened after that. The world that was finally full of light and glow was quickly starting to become desolate.

“We’re having budget cuts,” says my boss one day as she calls me into her office.

“You’re going to be put on bed rest for four months,” says the doctor to my mother.

“We’re not taking that trip to the Philippines anymore,” says my dad.

“I didn’t make it,” says my older sister.

“She passed away this morning,” reads a text from my best friend.

Why? The summer hasn’t even ended, and the world starts breaking down on my shoulders. I look in the mirror, and I see the stress on my face. Little bumps grow on my cheeks and the lines under my eyes sink deeper. I notice my voice getting smaller and smaller, my attitude meaner and crabbier. The sun no longer seems to be of any use.

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Those months became increasingly difficult. I lost my first job out of college – the one thing I was working up towards for all my four years in university was taken away from me. My mom tripped running to hush the new alarm system, and she tore her Achilles tendon doing so. Our long-awaited family trip to the Philippines was supposed to be a graduation present for me and my sisters since we were all finally out of school, (plus a celebration of my grandmother’s 100 years of living!) but my mom’s accident put our trip on hold. My sisters and I were looking all looking at unemployment, and one of my best friends from college lost her battle with lymphoma cancer.

But during this time, all I could think of was to be thankful. My late friend, Giselle, talked about how important it was to appreciate anything and everything. She was fighting the toughest battle and was still grateful through it all. My problems were nothing compared to hers, yet she kept holding on. I began to feel guilty and spoiled. I had a fruitful life. So many bountiful things had happened to me, and although it wasn’t clear at that moment, there were so many great things yet to come. I just had to keep fighting through and wait for the light to creep in.

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Address the negatives, but recognize the positives. It’s important not to brush off negative things that get in our way. But it’s also important to always remember what we do have, who  we have in our lives, and to know that there’s always more to come.

I held on during those dark, long couple of months and just tried to remember everything and everyone I did have. I had a lot. As soon as I started appreciating everything I had again, good things started kicking back into place.

“We would love to offer you an internship at our sister magazine,” says my coworker from a different department.

“You’re healing quickly and can start going back to work in November,” says the doctor to my mother.

“I got a job!” exclaims both my older sisters.

“I’ve gained a new angel in heaven,” I sob to myself.

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Life is still a whirlwind right now, but I’m nothing but grateful. From now on, whenever life wants to throw a rock in my path, I’ll have a better mindset than I’ve had before. I’ll remember that there ARE greater things to come, and that I have such a great life now that nothing could really get in the way of achieving more.  2016 sure was rocky, but I’m grateful for every experience I’ve been given.

I’ll face 2017 more prepared because I know more considerable challenges are to come. I’ll deem every moment precious and take nothing for granted. I’ll forever remember the best advice I was ever given, and I’ll always be thankful. (Love you Giselle, may you rest in peace. I dedicate this post to you. <3)

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What was the best thing that happened to you in 2016? Let me know.

For now, I’m signing off! Have a blessed new year and remember to always keep your chin up. Be thankful for all of the experiences you’ve had, no matter what.

Much love,

Shanon

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