The Lessons of 2016

It’s the 31st of December. We are just a couple of hours away from 2017. I had no intention of ignoring this blog for such a long time, but life happened.

The last time I sat down to write the blog, I was still in Korea, Trump had yet to win the Presidency thanks to the electoral college and all seemed rosy. Now, I find myself back home with the parents, after having spent a couple of weeks in London between books and networking events.

2016 has been a year of highs and lows. Here are the key takeaways of 2016.

1. I learnt how to deal with the end of a journey and the uncertainty of a new one


For the longest time, all I knew was school. I started going to nursery when I was 10 months old. I lived with the comforts of having a path. When I was 5 or 6 I stated proudly to my parents that I would become a doctor. From the moment I knew what university was, I knew I wanted to go. I had envisioned at least 6 years of university, a life as a surgeon or neurologist. And then plans changed.

This past July I graduated after 3 amazing years at Oxford, known by many of its students as a bubble. I lived a life of libraries, late nights talking about everything from the silliest to the most intellectual things. And when that was over, I went to Seoul.

Now I’m back home. The end of a journey, a trajectory, has been hard to accept. But I’ve learnt to deal with it. Everything in life comes to an end, and the best thing one can do is enjoy the journey as it happens and move on despite the fear of abandoning the known for the new and uncertain.

2. I learnt how complacency can make the world crumble under your feet


This year was overshadowed by Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and if you’re in Italy a constitutional referendum that left the ex Prime Minister Matteo Renzi humiliated.

This year has been the year of complacency for many like me. We lived in our bubbles of “the arch of justice bends towards justice”, and we congratulated ourselves for how far we have come. We recognised and got angry to the still existing injustices that many face. We revelled in the perks of globalisation and all. And then that dream, that illusion burst.

Brexit happened, and so did the rise of Trump.

We forget that we have allowed those things to happen. For years politicians have been pointing fingers to institutions, people and the likes to deflect the anger of many. Divide and conquer…and all that jazz. We’re at the dawn of this new year, 2017, and if I’ve learnt something is that complacency is equivalent to a lack of understanding and empathy. It’s living with i prosciutti sugli occhi, an Italian expression that means living with your eyes wide shut. It’s ignoring what has been going around you.

This is of course about the politics of 2017, but it is also about life in general. Let’s all try to be less complacent. Let’s all try to see the world from someone elses’ point of view, and let’s not dismiss others.

3. I learnt that you never get used to someone close to you dying


At this time last year I had been back a couple of days from my trip to Cote D’Ivoire. I did not know that, but a few months later my granddad, on my father’s side, would pass away. Did I expect it? No. Was I ready for it? No. Despite the fact that in a few years I’d lost two of my grandparents, nothing prepares you for another death in the family. That man was kind, his voice rasp perhaps because he had smoked a lot in his youth, and he fit the stereotype of the grumpy granpa to a tee. I still remember his smile, his tired eyes. I miss him everyday. The man was old and it was his time but that doesn’t make it any less painful.

Death is something we all will have to deal with at some point in our lives. It’s painful, and it hurts. It will get easier but the sense of loss will never leave you.  And that’s okay.

4. I learnt how to remind myself constantly to live in the moment


I thought I had learnt this lesson but it’s one that does not always stick. Planning ahead is definitely a good thing, and I’m not in anyway discounting how important it is, but focusing solely on the finish line makes you forget completely what is actually happening now.

2016 went on so fast and I struggle to believe that it’s already over. But I’m glad that this year I reminded myself to stop at times, take a deep breath and take in the moment. I found that doing so allowed me to smile and be happy even at the smallest things.

These are the main lessons I’ve leartn in 2016. I’d love to learn about your own!


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