Editor reflects on past year

Dec 5 • Olivia Burger • 832

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
If I’m being honest with you, this is the only thing I remember from reading Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in high school — and I use the term “reading” loosely because I’m pretty sure I SparkNoted 90 percent of the novel.
This quote has always stuck with me though. I find it ironically relatable how some things are simultaneously the best and worst.
2017 was one of those things. Well, at least for me it was.
It’s funny how you usually enter every new year with a naïvely optimistic attitude about how this year is YOUR year. This year is going to be better than the last. This is the year that things are going to change.
My mentality was kind of the opposite going into 2017 though. Maybe it’s because I’m slightly pessimistic, but with the way 2016 went, I expected 2017 to be pretty rough.
The uncertainty that surrounded the 2016 election certainly trickled into 2017, and waking up every single morning to a new insane tweet from our president continues to feel like a nightmare.
In a weird way, I’m somewhat grateful for the craziness of our current presidential situation because it gave me the motivation to combat the negativity spread by Trump, thus why I initially started volunteering at the International Institute of Erie.
Through my work with the refugee children at the institute I’ve gained so much appreciation for refugees and their journeys, and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life that ironically stemmed from anger and upset feelings about the travel ban.
Some of the best academically related things that happened to me this year also stemmed from times that weren’t particularly enjoyable.
Spending every day of my summer stressing about my graduate school application and studying for my standardized test was miserable, but it ultimately worked out because I was accepted.
I’ve never been more relieved or stress- free than I am right now and I don’t really quite know what to do with this relaxed feeling other than to enjoy it.
I know that I worked hard to be where I am and for right now I just want to be proud of what I’ve accomplished because I know the journey to this point was certainly not easy or fun.
I think that the most drastic change I faced in 2017 was a personal one, however.
Looking back at the start of this year, it’s easy for me to see now that I wasn’t at all happy with the way my life was going.
The stress surrounding my academics, relationships and friendships was unhealthy but hard to shed because I was comfortable with what I knew and I didn’t want to change anything.
I was terrified to switch things up because what if it was worse than before? What if I didn’t like the change?
2017 was simultaneously the worst and best year of my life but it could’ve easily just been the worst if I hadn’t embraced change.
The best parts of this year happened because I decided to put myself first and focus on what made me happy, even if that meant losing things or people along the way.
Days, years and lives in general will have their highs and lows, but I think that if 2017 taught me anything it’s that personal happiness and self-love is key to making it through this life.

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