Growing Through Challenges: Reflecting on 2016

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Happy New Year. What do you think when you hear this phrase? The connotation that comes with this phrase is making resolutions that usually do not last, or hoping that the new year will be better than the last one because maybe the last year was awful and nothing you had hoped for. Or was it?


Every year, around this time, I begin to constantly hear people talk about how they cannot wait for a new year. They say that the past year was terrible and that next year will hopefully be better. They say this every year, because so often we stay hung-up on the negatives in a situation and fail to look at the positives. As Rita Schiano once said, “Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.” Break the habit. Talk about your joys. Here’s how you can break that habit when looking at the closing of 2016.


Personally, 2016 was one of the best years of my life. One major reason was the fact that I started attending NDA. It has been an amazing place in which I have found not only new friends and uniforms, but it has been a place in which I have found a great amount of confidence and self-esteem. For you, maybe you started another year of school, a new job, or got a promotion. This is something to be proud of, even if you don’t find pride in it. Even the smallest transitions in life mean you are working hard to achieve your goals. Maybe this was your tenth year working for the same company. Maybe it was your first year at a new job because you were laid off a few years back. Either way, you have worked hard to get where you are and that is something to be proud of.


In 2016, I have been dealt my fair share of loss. I am sure you can relate to dealing with loss. Even if it is as small as losing your favorite sweater, loss is hard. But, the thing about loss is that it makes you stronger and more appreciative. Losing someone or something is difficult, but it makes you hug your loved ones that are still around a little tighter, and helps you appreciate the things you take for granted a little more. So be grateful for the people in your life that have cared about you in 2016. And be grateful for all the things that you had in 2016, from the room you spent hours on end studying in to the dollar you found on the ground the other day.


As I transitioned into high school, I found myself not only growing physically but growing mentally. I believe each year leaves room for growth in every person. Challenges are inevitable, but when they are overcome we are left stronger than we ever thought we could be, and grow from it. You faced some sort of challenge in 2016, whether it was that test that brought your grade down several points, or that morning you forgot your coffee and felt like a walking zombie. Even the smallest of challenges force us to grow, even when we don’t realize it. That test that brought your grade down? It helped you grow into a more diligent studier. That morning you forgot your coffee? It helped you grow into a more routinely person. For every ‘ugh’ moment, there is also an opportunity for growth, and you took advantage of that opportunity more than you realize in 2016.


I could write all day about all the positives in 2016: food, clothes, a roof over your head; there are millions of positives in not only a year but every single day. I am sure you understand the point I am trying to make: look at the positives in 2016, not the negatives, but I truly mean it. Being positive, and focusing on your joys rather than your problems, will make you a happier person and make 2017 the best it can be.


This is the beginning of anything you want.


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