As I sit in my childhood bedroom and gaze pensively out the window, I reflect on all the things that 2017 brought with it, and I struggle to put my feelings into words. And as I open my mouth to verbally express my confusion to a line of stuffed animals sitting on the bookshelf, reality television icon and beauty guru Kylie Jenner’s sage words of wisdom escape my suddenly perfectly-painted lips, “I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff.”
Kylie Jenner, as per usual, is 100 percent correct. 2017 and all years prior are “really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff.” And, if you ask me, I have realized a heck of a lot of stuff. But it isn’t just me — each one of us, the University community and our nation as a whole had to face some serious realities this year that will go on to shape 2018 and the decades to come, both on a micro- and a macro-scale.
Let’s start with me. I realized lots of stuff in 2017 — like signing up for a 9:30 a.m. class does not, in fact, make you a morning person. Actually, it makes you hate yourself. Some other stuff I realized:
- You cannot counteract three cans of Red Bull — sorry mom — with melatonin after you finish studying.
- The speed limit on McCormick Road is 15 miles per hour.
- There are a lot of cops on McCormick Road.
- Narwhals are real.
But enough about me. What stuff has the rest of the nation realized this calendrical year? I think Taylor Swift has realized that the whole bad-girl-in-a-jumpsuit thing works for her “reputation.” Hollywood has realized that modern Americans love a good movie musical.
However, perhaps the most important realization was a bit more serious — the rape and sexual assault allegations brought against dozens of famous men in politics, entertainment and business showed our world just how unequal men and women are in these fields. Hopefully, it also made people around the country much more aware that their actions have consequences and how to properly conduct themselves around others, after seeing how it can take down giants in our society.
And what stuff has Charlottesville realized this year? The most prominent answer is obvious — racism still exists in our world, in our country and even in our millennial bubble of social justice and egalitarianism. The events of Aug. 11 and 12 , but the added flourishes of white supremacists’ promises to return and filings of permit requests magnifies the situation.
But amidst this rain cloud that has hung over our town this semester, there have been some good realizations, too. The University has realized how opposed many students are to and is starting to listen. Finally, I think the University community as a whole began to realize the inequalities still present in our society and has taken steps to remove them. Through new social justice contracted independent organizations, special trainings, speaker series and classes designed to highlight both the positive and negative aspects of the history of our nation and our university, we are moving forward and realizing some pretty eye-opening stuff.
Here’s to hoping Kylie Jenner can enlighten me the same way in stats next semester.