Many of us had just begun the process of putting our holiday decorations away and enjoying the beginning of 2016 when we heard the news: David Bowie died two days after his birthday.
It caught us off guard. We didn’t even know that he was sick.
Collectively, we began mourning his beautiful music and the effect that his music had on our lives. The Thin White Duke was gone.
Celebrity deaths were everywhere in 2016.
As the year continued, it felt like 2016 had it in for us. Many of the people who were part of the tapestry of our lives weren’t going to get out of 2016 alive.
Prince, Mohammed Ali, Alan Rickman (Snape from The Harry Potter Series), Gene Wilder, Glenn Frey, Harper Lee, and Fidel Castro. The alarming thing is that this is the short list.
And let’s not forget the late-year tragedy of losing Princess Leia/General Organa. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
It didn’t feel like we were drama queens as we continued to wrack up more losses even until the very end of 2016. It felt like the obvious response to emotional stress.
Was this the worst presidential election ever?
On top of all of the people dying, we were inundated by the constant sharing of the dulcet tones of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton making their cases for the presidency.
All day long. We couldn’t escape them, online, on TV on our cell phones, and any other place we found ourselves browsing for information. And we couldn’t escape friends and family talking about politics.
As we moved further into 2016 it began to feel like we were under fire.
Or, was our perception of what was going on in our world skewed by the constant availability of news, newsfeeds, and friends sharing things that would otherwise slip our notice?
Was our belief that 2016 had been a crappy year a result of the skillful targeting of Facebook ads and fake news stories? Was the real issue with 2016 that we had too much information available to us at all times?
Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss.
I found that, compared to other years, 2016 did feel like an exceptionally difficult year. And, as I wrote this post I decided to reflect on this. Was 2016, in fact, a difficult year? Or was there something else going on that I didn’t want to admit?
Are we all just a bunch of drama queens?
Life isn’t always easy. It’s messy, chaotic, and it’s not always pretty. Life is a gift, but it’s a gift that comes with the following reality: life is balanced out by death.
And, without being too morbid, death happens when you least expect it.
But 2016 was rough not just because of the beloved celebrities who passed away. It was rough because it felt like our way of life was dying. To me, it felt like the spirit of America in the way that we knew it was going away and maybe that was what was what we were having a collective reaction to.
And, let’s also be honest, as we get older our awareness of the mortality of the people in our lives becomes more acute.
We’re a lot more aware of the threats to our own lives and safety and with the ability to: Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Excessive amounts of frightening information leaves us shaking in our boots.
We begin holding our loved ones tighter and when situations like: terrorism, the shooting in Orlando, or natural disasters. We hold our breath until we’re sure that everyone we love and care about are OK.
We’re not drama queens for reacting to the changes we experience. Most people (myself included) resist change, especially when that change feels like an unwelcome visitor that just won’t go away.
So, are we drama queens?
I just think we’re human.
Perhaps the real issue that needs to be addressed is how to manage the emotions that come from the unexpected moments that break our hearts.
Own your feelings. David Bowie or Prince dying broke your heart because you are remembering the first time you heard “Let’s Go Crazy” or “Ashes to Ashes” and the way that you played it over and over again. Own it.
Do you love or hate how the election turned out? Are you frightened or thrilled by the outcome depending on your political philosophy? Own it.
Are you frightened of your own mortality? Be honest.
The most important piece of advice that I can give you is to embrace life. Embrace your loved ones. Don’t live in fear of the next shitty thing that may happen. Take each day as it comes because ultimately, you woke up that day.
I’ve had more shitty situations in my life than I would like to admit.
Some of those situations were my own fault, while other situations were the result of life happening. In every instance, I had to focus on becoming resilient and figure out ways to keep from being overwhelmed and demoralized by these situations.
But, let’s be honest, most years are a mixed bag.
At least you woke up today. Don’t take it for granted that life will always run smoothly. And, yes, 2016 was pretty shitty.