Goodbye, 2016.


So, yes, Trump was chosen to be the president. David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Alan Rickman and Muhammad Ali, among many others, were taken away from us. Brexit happened. Several planes crashed, a gazillion bombs were blasted, and a ridiculous amount of new racial slurs were invented every passing minute. Heck, Kim Kardashian was robbed.

Today, I sat down and wrote today's date. It said 2017. And the 'acceptance' phase started to creep in. 2016 is finally behind us. What a terrible terrible year, I said. And then I thought about it - I mean I did just upset the grammar Gods by saying terrible twice. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't such a terrible year after all. As a matter of fact, it was a pretty darn good year.

When 2016 started, I made one single resolution (false - I made many others but they all failed especially the 'I will drink water this year') to try and find that one point where I'd give up - the corners of my limits, if you would like to make it a little corny. I did this by organizing two big events (evoHaX and The Accessible World Conference) back to back during Philly Tech Week. Lesson to self: awful idea. As much as the participants thought these were great events, from an inside eye, they suffered from divided attention and could have been much better. But this got me really close to realizing what my boundaries were - and how to stretch them just enough to not crash.

2016 is when Comcast became a workplace from a job that I'd only dreamt of (yeah, not the call center). Working under and with people where my learning curve has gone wild (in a good way) and my eyes have witnessed humility, respect, and passion like no other organization I've ever been a part of. I was fortunate enough to apply this knowledge to EvoXLabs, which saw its own substantial growth in the past year. EvoXLabs was awarded a grant by AccessComputing (and renewed for Spring 2017) to hire students with disabilities as interns to work on open source projects. This goes down in my life as the first time I had my own interns (no, they did not make coffee or filed folders) and something that I'll always be proud of.

It was also an emotional year - as I walked (well, strolled) down (up the ramp) the aisle and graduated with a 4.0 and a CS award. If you had asked me three years ago if that was something I had even remotely envisioned in the near future, I would have laughed and then cried and then stared at the ceiling for hours. I finally embraced the adult life - signed the lease of my first apartment, got my first credit card, learned how not to get scratched by a cat, did furniture shopping, and switched to a healthier diet (this is absolutely false). I achieved a level of independence that is extremely uncommon for anybody with my injury level.

It's funny what you can achieve when you're not afraid to rebel against the can'ts.

I also turned 27 for the first time.

But of course, I'm not sent from the heavens - I had help. I had the support of the awesomest people one could ever imagine. I had friends there for me in rain, snow, the sunniest and the darkest of the days (quite literally). I had an entire community of entrepreneurs, techies, innovators, and visionaries to inspire me, push me forward and pat on my back every time I achieved something in life. I had family who even from thousands of miles away are closer than many within a mile (my mom still sends me cards with cars on them because for her, I'm still 14).

Thank you obviously is a very small word but maybe caps lock would help - THANK YOU.

I have made decisions that I'll forever be proud of, and some that I'll always regret. I've let go of people and welcomed new ones. I've lost love and found it. I've done many firsts and many lasts. Just like every year. But one thing was different in 2016: I gained the maturity (certainly makes sense for a 27-year-old - you'd think) to analyze all this and learn from it.

So, 2017, hello. We have a lot of things to do/go through together. It won't be easy and it shouldn't be (what's the fun in an easy life) but if 2018 is to come (because America), we'll have our own fireworks to celebrate our time together.

P. S. The emotions in this blog post are heavily influenced by Adele's 21 vinyl record that is playing right now. You can blame Trung Anh for that.

Published on: 12th January, 2017.