16 Good Things in 2016

It seems that we can all agree that 2016 was not the year we had hoped it would be. Many have been ready to chalk it up as one of the worst years in history, due to the extensive list of negative things that have come from this year. From the deadly shooting in Orlando, to the countless murders carried out by police officers, to the election of Donald Trump, to the killing of the beloved gorilla; 2016 has not been a good year for many. While it is much easier to focus on the negatives that occurred this past year, 2016 did bring some positives with it. Here are 16 good things that happened in 2016 (some may be subjective):

Indigenous People’s Day Replacing Columbus Day:

While this isn’t the first year a few states and major cities have recognized this holiday, it was this year that it began to gain momentum throughout the country. In states such as Vermont, Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota, people in major cities are hoping to not only recognize the true history behind Columbus, but also to celebrate the incredible bravery and resilience shown by the native inhabitants of the Western World. While it remains Columbus Day on a federal level, many more cities and states are moving towards replacing the holiday to honor the real heroes of the late 1400’s.


Pokémon Go:

This new app took us all by storm this year, encouraging kids and adults to get outside and be more active. While it’s not a perfect substitute for exercising, it has helped many people get off the couch and go outside. It has kids out walking and being more active, which is a big accomplishment when we take the increasing obesity rates and the drop in physical activities into account. It’s also a game that can connect an older generation to the younger one, as many young kids are discovering Pokémon for the first time, and older kids and young adults are reentering the world they loved from their childhood.


Giant Pandas:

After spending decades on the endangered species list, the great panda is now no longer considered endangered. While they are not completely safe yet (they are considered “vulnerable”), this is till a huge advancement for the loveable species. For the past 50 years, giant pandas have been the face of wildlife conservation, and now it seems to have been successful. The next step? Working to save the giant apes, who are one wrong move away from being extinct.


The Increasing Tiger Populations:

Another animal has made a comeback this year. The wild tiger population increased for the first time in a century during this year. After being one of the most endangered species, the increase in the number of tigers is definitely a positive trend that hopefully continues in the coming years.


All the Great Movies:

2016 had some spectacular movies come out, without a doubt. From superhero to Disney, this has been a great year for cinema. We had Zootopia, Batman vs. Superman, Moana, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts, Deadpool, and, of course, the long-awaited Finding Dory. Fantastic movies from just about every genre filled the theaters week after week.


Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar:

Speaking of movies, the actor we have all been waiting for finally won his Oscar. After an astounding performance in The Revenant, Leo finally won the award he undeniably deserves. The best part? True to form, DiCaprio remained humble during his speech, and saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness for climate change and global warming, making him even more lovable.


Discovery of the ALS Gene:

After the Ice Bucket Challenge took the world by storm back in 2014, $115 million dollars was donated to the ALS Association. That money played a huge role in the discovery of the NEK1 gene. This gene now ranks as one of the most common contributions to the disease, and its discovery brings us one huge step closer to unveiling a cure.


Standing Rock:

When it was found that the Dakota Access Pipeline Project threatened the water supply and other sacred grounds of the Native American tribes who lived in the area worked tirelessly to peacefully protest. People throughout the nation stood with them, figuratively and literally. After enduring tear gas, water canons, and other police brutalities, the federal government halted the project. While the future of Standing Rock remains unknown, this is still a huge accomplishment for the people who stood their ground to fight for what they believe in.


The Olympics:

The 2016 Olympics in Rio undoubtedly had some highlights. One of them being the first Olympics held in South America. Another major change was the return of rugby as an Olympic sport, which is one of the most popular, worldwide sports. The return of rugby also led to Fiji winning their first ever gold medal, when the men’s team won the tournament. The American gymnastics team also took home the gold medal in Women’s Gymnastics, with the help of Simone Biles, who has been named one of the best Olympic gymnasts of all time. We also witnessed swimmer, Michael Phelps last competition, as he defended his title as the most decorated Olympian.


Sport’s Illustrated First Plus Size Model:

This year we were introduced to Ashley Graham, the first plus size model to be on the cover of the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Six years ago, the size 16 model shot a commercial for Lane Bryant’s lingerie line. However, ABC pulled the ad, saying it was too “big and beautiful for TV.” While she is the same size as an average American woman, she is still deemed a plus-size model. The next step for Ashley? Getting people to stop calling her a “plus size model” and just calling her a model. Despite the backlash the magazine received, such as calling Graham “disgusting,” this remains a huge advancement for women. If the media keeps portraying these normal sized women, it could have an enormous impact on women feeling comfortable in their own bodies, no matter their size.


The First CoverBoy:

Another huge advancement in models is James Charles, CoverGirl’s first CoverBoy. He will be featured in CoverGirl’s ad for So Lashy!, their newest mascara line. Charles is also seen in several different makeup looks, one of them Katy Perry. This is a huge message for all people, especially boys who wish to wear makeup. This shows that anyone should be allowed to feel beautiful in their own skin, no matter their gender. CoverGirl’s advancement in their makeup ads didn’t stop here. Nura Afia is CoverGirl’s first model to wear a hijab. The makeup company is setting the stage for diversity in their ads, which is hopefully something other companies will follow.


Jon Snow Coming Back to Life:

This was great news for Game of Thrones fans, as one of the most beloved characters was brought back to life after being stabbed by his own men. The end of season five showed the character slowly bleeding out in the snow, leaving fans shocked and outraged. Widely believed as a “safe character,” the death of Jon Snow was a huge curveball in the popular series. However, thanks to the Red Woman, Jon Snow was brought back from the dead, and was able to take revenge on his enemies.


The Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors:

In early October, President Obama signed the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act into law, which guarantees specific rights for sexual assault victims. The act mainly focuses on rape kits, the forensic evidence collected in hospitals. It protects their access to the examination, and ensures that the evidence is preserved and tested. Victims can also no longer be charged for or prevented from getting a rape kit, even if they haven’t filed a police report. Upon completion of the rape kit, it must be preserved until the statute of limitations runs out. Survivors may also request that they be notified before the kit is destroyed, and that the evidence be preserved. They also now have the right to be notified of important results, such as a DNA profile. This law not only gives sexual assault survivors much-needed rights, it also helps to empower them.


Ellen DeGeneres is Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

President Obama teared up as he listed the reasons Ellen was being presented with the award. He stated that, “Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, and more loving place, so as long as we just keep swimming.” Ellen, who has dedicated her life to spreading kindness and encouraging bravery, her work for the LBGT community, as well as the country as a whole, has inspired many to be more accepting of all people. Obama continued by saying, “Ellen counters what too often divides us, with the countless things that bind us together, inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.” Ellen continues to spread positivity and humor on her show, something all of us should strive to do.


The First Muslim Woman Congressman:

This election season, a disappointment for many, reflected some progress in the American people when Ilhan Omar was voted by Minnesota into the House of Representatives. Omar is the first Somali-American Muslim Woman to be elected as a U.S. Legislator, defeating Minnesota’s 44-year incumbent. The inequality in the U.S. inspired her to become involved in politics, and she now represents the district that covers most of Minneapolis. She stated that, “Our democracy is great, but it’s fragile.” This is huge accomplishment, especially for the increasing Somali population in Minnesota. Omar’s election will hopefully give the Somali people the voice they deserve.


Hillary Clinton Advances the Feminist Movement:

Despite her shocking loss in the election to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton opened the door for women, showing that is possible for women to be successful in politics. She has been a senator, a First Lady, a Secretary of State, and was very close to being the first woman president. Despite the turnout of the electoral college, the popular vote favored Hillary, showing that women really can do anything men do. Upon voting for Hillary, many women lined up at Susan B. Anthony’s grave, to place the “I Voted” sticker on her stone. While this is likely the end of Hillary’s presidential runs, she has opened the door for women everywhere, and has started shattering the glass ceiling in politics. She has shown that women can be powerful, which can sometimes scare people. While we remain one of the only first world countries that has not had a woman leader, hopefully, the first woman president is not too far in the future.

The grave of women?s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony is covered with "I Voted" stickers left by voters in the U.S. presidential election

As we can see from the list above, even the darkest times are filled with light. While 2016 was not the year we all hoped it would be, we can use it as a foundation to make 2017 better. Our world is what we make it out to be, so let’s use 2017 and what we learned in 2016 to try to make the world a little better, one step at a time.


The Consequences of Living With Your Best Friends

eScreen Shot 2016-12-13 at 5.51.03 PM.png

One of the most important parts of life is the time that you no longer live with your parents, but you also don’t live alone or with a significant other. I’m talking about the roommate time. You may have one or five roommates and they may be males, females, or both. However, no matter who they are, your roommates will inevitably be one of three types. The roommate you don’t talk to unless you have to, the one you spend time with, but not too much time, and the one who you spend most of your time with, not because you have to, but because you want to. Luckily, both of my roommates fall into the third category. They are two of my best friends, but that doesn’t always make living together easy. We have our spats and grievances, but at the end of every day, I know that they will be there in a second if I need them. So these are some things that will inevitably happen when your best friends and your roommates are the same people.

You get to know each other’s families: Somehow, you will be introduced to their family, whether you go home with them or their parents come to visit. The same will happen with them and your family. I have met both of my roommates’ families, and know quite a bit of their history, as they know my family and our story. Some things about their family will seem odd to you, but you also begin to understand how they became the person they are.

You know each other’s biggest insecurities: No one will know the things you don’t like about yourself better than they will. My roommates are well aware of the things that put a damper on my self-esteem, and I know theirs. We each other’s least favorite parts about our bodies, the personality traits we wish we could change, and all of our shortcomings. Luckily, there is an unwritten rule that we never hold these things against each other, nor do we make each other feel more ashamed of them. We don’t need to point each other’s flaws; there are plenty of other people that do it for us, including ourselves. Instead, we make each other feel better about the things we wish we could change.

You know each other’s food preferences better than you know your own: Chances are, if you take a bite of something, you’re going to know whether or not your roommate is going to like it. You know what flavor blends they like and the ones they don’t. My roommates know that I don’t like mushrooms or shrimp, and that I think thyme tastes like dirt. I know that one doesn’t like Swiss cheese and the other loves salt. I know what they like on their pizza and how they eat their steak. We learn each other’s food choices, which makes cooking together much more fun and a whole lot easier!

If you are close to the same size, you will share clothes: This is great when we are going out, because I don’t have just one closet to raid; I have three! The perk works both ways, because they have raided my closet as well. If you are the same size, might as well take advantage of it! And if not, at least you will always have a second opinion on what to wear!

You know each other’s weirdest habits: You are not weirder with anyone else than you are with each other. You can let all your quirks roam free, and they probably wouldn’t even be surprised by them. My roomies know that I like butter more than most people, that I like to perch on furniture, and that I LOVE playing with fire (literally and figuratively)! Because I love them, I won’t write about the weird habits they have, but I DO know them… better than I sometimes would like to.

You rarely show up somewhere without at least one of them: Whether it’s to a party or running an errand, chances are I have at least one, if not both, of my roommates in tow. You’d think we’d get tired of spending so much time together, and sometimes we do, but most things are just so much more fun with someone to share the experience with.

You have a lot of the same friends: Partly because of the pervious statement, there is A LOT of overlap between friends. If you want to be friend, you have to get with my roomies (not quite what the Spice Girls were talking about, but close enough). You have very few friends that are exclusively yours, but being able to all hang out together is part of the fun. It also makes party planning and get togethers a lot easier and a lot more fun.

You know each other’s life stories: You know everything about their childhood, adolescence, teen years, and their day to day to life. My roommates probably know more about me than anyone else, which makes things a lot easier to process because you have the help. A guy is giving you trouble? They will help you figure out how to proceed. Not sure how to respond to your crush? They can analyze his text and help come up with the perfect response. They know who your friend’s were when you were in elementary school, and they know your high school social ranking (mine was not high). They could probably write your life story better than you could.

Boundaries cease to exist: There are no limits to what we will do. We have seen each other nude countless times, and have long conservations in the bathroom. We seldom knock and know whose underwear are whose without even having to think. We talk about anything and everything; no topic is off limits. We also know which weeks to be a little nicer to each other…

You have someone looking out for you: No matter what happens, I know that I have at least two people who have my back. You mess with one of us, you mess with all three. If I needed to hide a body, I know who I would go to; my roommates. We watch out for each other because, deep down, we love each other. No matter how much we get on each other’s nerves, we are still there for each other.

I’m one of the lucky ones who lives with close friends. Yes, we get mad and annoyed with each other. Yes, we have things we wish could change about each other. We all have our bad days. But, all that seems to pale in comparison to all the advantages these girls come with. I have gone from stranger, to friend, to close friend, to roommate with one, and from stranger, to acquaintance, to roommate, to close friend with the other. They are so wonderfully different, but they both have beautiful hearts. I know that when I am living alone or with a family of my own, I will look back and cherish the time I spent living with them, all the while missing them both terribly. I love you both, and I hope we continue to make what will become some of my favorite memories.

For the Boys

In today’s society, there is a lot of emphasis on feminism and women’s rights, rightfully so. However, in the fight for gender equality, we can forget about our male counterparts. We get so caught up in being heard, being treated with respect, and being treated fairly (as we should), that we forget to remember that guys need to be reminded of their worth sometimes too. The goal of feminism isn’t to prove that women are better than men; the goal is for men and women to be treated equally. When we try to make our cause heard by putting men down, we are no better than the misogynists who try to hold us down. So this post is for the boys, because no one tells you these things nearly enough.

You don’t need to be 6’ tall and have a six pack to be good looking. You boys are perfect at all shapes and sizes. Not every girl is looking for the tall and muscular build; some of us like the soft, teddy bear boys, some of us like the short and stocky boys, and some of us like the tall and thin. As with women, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes for men too. Don’t forget that.

Your facial hair does not define your masculinity. You are just as manly when you are clean shaven. Just as make up doesn’t define my femininity, whether or not you have a beard shouldn’t change people’s opinion of you. Wear your face however you like.

You have as much right to your child as women do. You helped make that beautiful life, and that child is half you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not as important to your child as his/her mother is. He/she needs you just as much as his/her other parent. No one has the right to tell you any differently.

Male rape victims deserve the same treatment and attention as female rape victims. No one deserves to be raped, including men. If you are raped, it is not your fault. Let me say that again for the people in the back: IF YOU GET RAPED IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. It is equally as horrifying as a female victim, regardless of what gender was your rapist. It is still a heinous crime, and you should not be held responsible for that. You are every much as a victim as a female is, and have a divine right to be treated as such.

It’s okay for you to have mental health problems. Having depression, anxiety, or anything else does not make you weak. Having the courage to admit and face your problems makes you strong. You should be treated with respect, not matter what kind of help you need.

It’s okay for you to be sensitive. It does not make you any less of a man. You have emotions for a reason, so don’t be afraid to let them show. It’s okay to cry when you’re sad, or to feel hurt, or even to feel unloved and lonely. You are a human being with feelings, and you should be allowed to express them any way you want to.

You deserve to be treated as a king as much as I deserve to be treated like a queen. If a girl expects you to treat her like a princess, then she better be fully prepared to treat you like a prince, because you are worth that. Don’t ever forget that you deserve a fairy tale life just as much as she does. You should never have to prove your worth to someone, because you are human being. This means you have just as much worth as every other human being on this planet. Don’t forget that. You are a king.

You don’t always need to be the knight in shining armor. It’s perfectly acceptable if you need saving too. It’s okay for you to need help from someone else once in awhile. Don’t feel like you always need to be on the white horse- it’s okay to take off your armor once in awhile and be vulnerable. Sometimes you need someone to save you just as much as I sometimes need someone to save me. A girl or another boy can be your knight too.

You deserve everything you want in this life. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, a family, whatever it is, you deserve it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t deserve something you want. You deserve the world just as much as I do. Don’t be afraid to chase it.

I have always stood for gender equality. The way road to feminism should not be paved by putting men down. We are all people and deserve to be treated as such. While you continue to fight for the female voice to be heard, make sure you aren’t smother the male voice. They need to be heard too. In some ways, they need gender equality just as much as we do. Treat everyone with respect, and we can build a better world. Spread love not hate, and never stop striving to be the person you want to be.