Being an Optimist in 2016

By: Sonia Schmidt

After a year of political discord, viruses abound, celebrity losses, and natural disasters, my friends just looked at me and said, “Wow. That really sucked.”

And while I understood where they were coming from (there was a lot to deal with) I knew that even amidst the turmoil there must have been beacons of light. I couldn’t bear to enter the new year under the pretense that all of the previous 365 days I lived were worthless because several of them were painful. I couldn’t let myself fall into this hole wherein I could write off an entire year of my life as an uphill battle that I could never win.

I chose to find the good, even when I felt like breaking down. Especially then.  

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  ~ Albert Camus

I did some research to bolster my claim and wanted to remind us all of why 2016, while a struggle, was not a loss.


  1. For the first time ever, a refugee team walked at the Olympics.

  2. Relations between Cuba and the U.S. are the warmest they’ve been in 60 years.

  3. Giant Pandas are no longer endangered!

  4. (Spoilers) Jon Snow came back to life. Enough said.

  5. Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY won an Oscar.

  6. Lemonade by Beyonce was a thing, in an amazing way.

  7. The ozone layer is repairing itself from the damage humans did to it with aerosols.

  8. Hillary Clinton became the first female Democratic Party nominee.

  9. 21 of the missing Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria were returned home.

  10. The Chicago Cubs won the world series for the first time in 100 years.

  11. Scientists detected gravitational waves, confirming a prediction in Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

  12. The Ice Bucket challenge helped fund a study that helped scientists distinguish a gene, NEK1, that many people with ALS have, paving the way for future studies.

  13. Frank Ocean FINALLY released an album.

  14. Unemployment reached a low equivalent to that before the recession.

  15. Significant progress is being made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with new studies looking promising.


If you want more good things, here is an extensive list.

I leave you with a fighting song to remember the good and bad of the past year, so we might learn from our defeats as well as revel in our triumphs.