2022 Was Better Than 2021, Which Was Better Than 2020
Way back in December 2014, back when Donald Trump was in fevered negotiations about whether or not to return as the host of the television program “The Apprentice,” I wrote, for Medium, a short column called “Every Year Is The Worst Year Ever.” The premise was simple: At the end of every year, people complain about how terrible the year was and how much better they hope the next year will be, and they will do this at the end of year as long as there are years. As silly as it is that we humans do this, there’s also something charming, even optimistic about it.
This is actually charming, I’d argue, and even hopeful. To look back and fret and mourn is to look forward and believe the future holds something different. It doesn’t, of course. But bless our hearts for thinking otherwise! It takes a certain sort of courage to believe that this year of heartbreak was unique, to be kicked in the face by humanity’s worst instincts over and over and over and think it’s just a blip, a bug rather than a feature. It’s how we move on; it’s how we deal with all of it. So here’s to 2014: May its miseries ultimately be washed away by future miseries! Cheers!
I have continued to feel this way since I wrote that piece, and I’d argue a key piece of evidence for it is that I honestly do not remember what was so horrible about 2013 that people were so desperate to get away from it. Whatever happened back then, 2013 sure sounds, doesn’t it? This was the point, of course: Every year seems unsatisfying because the present is always unsatisfying, which is to say, life is unsatisfying. We pretend the past is better than it was and hope the future will be better than it will be because we cannot kid ourselves about the present. The end of a year is the rare moment when we look both forwards and backwards, the moment when we can treat the present as something fleeting.
Thus, I’ve always assumed every year will always feel a little worse than the last one was, not because it actually was, but because of that romanticization of the past and the inherent hopefulness for the future. But as 2022 comes to an end, I think this year might be a bit of an exception. Because 2022 has totally been better than 2021.