I feel guilty liking 2018.

In the popular narrative, this was the worst year. The sum total of events earmarked “2018” made it Hell on Earth. Wildfires. Politics. Geopolitics. There is a knot in the stomach of America, and each day, that knot twists tighter seemingly just because it can. That does not make for easy living.

In my personal narrative, however, 2018 was great. I graduated college. I wrote a lot. I got the job. Waking up at 6am to get back from the gym at 7:30am so a desk is filled by 9am is the stuff on AnSo nightmares. To me, it feels productive. As the saying goes: “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.” I hope the rest of my life doesn’t include New York rent, but in so many senses, it’s damn good to be here.

Which brings me to here. The big “here.” This fleeting moment, one letter a time.

2016 was the worst year until 2017. 2017 was the worst year until 2018. 2018 was the worst year. Until what?

There’s a part of me that believes the large, secular trends filtered to us through the daily panic are nowhere close to over. Elections won’t fix structural changes. Podcasts won’t fix eroded institutions. If I look both ways each time I cross the street, I’ll likely live long enough to see how our shared complex system dissipates 30 years of tension. As an 18-25 year old male, I hope it’s peace.

But here’s where the guilt really kicks.

One year from now, we’ll know whether the knot has tightened - whether past trends predicted future results. 2019 may be a year of collective exhale. 2018 may have been our 1968. If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t be blogging. Time has a way of healing all wounds, and again, looking both ways should let me stick around long enough to see it.

However, if the plate tectonics we’re experiencing play out, some of the earthquakes now manifesting - rising inequality, asset inflation, divisive politics - may look more like foreshocks.

I hope they don’t. I hope the next year is happy, healthy, and productive. But if it’s not, it’d be nice to say “2018 was great” without furrowing brows.

Optimism and guilt. Forecasts and foreshadowing. A cocktail of emotions spurred by a night of cocktails. Must be New Years.


AS RAKESTRAW | The personal site of Alex Rakestraw.