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FRANSEN: Remember, it is the season of thanks, not ranks

Elena Fransen

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elena color sidedAs the nights get longer and the wind chill only goes lower, the end of 2014 is fast approaching. Now is the time of debates over which ugly sweater to wear to the party and whether mug night at Caffrey’s is worth the chilly walk from a warm apartment. Other debates with the end of the year are centered on how events of the year rank overall.

From Buzzfeed to Time, media sources, and their readers, love to rank things: from best to worst, most influential moment to most forgettable and sexiest man to… well, they never make an ugliest man list, but you get the idea. Now is when we get into the holiday spirit by praising some aspects of the year while bashing others.

While it can be fun to procrastinate work on finals to scroll the lists for your top  this or that or new ideas for what movies you need to see over break, the lists only offer a narrow perspective on the year, sorting things as one of the best or the worst. Categorizing events, movies or songs into one of these two choices limits what we may take away from the year in pop culture and current events.

Ranking lists are mostly a tool for pop culture websites (and John Cusack in “High Fidelity”) though it does not seem a far cry from everyone ranking everything from their year as good or bad, influential or hey, who even needs a list for the forgettable? Comparing things from new people met to movies seen within this model makes for a disjointed view on the year when there is a lot more to recognize.

If we just look at consensus ranking of the good and the bad, we leave out the little things that were great and played some importance. The small moments and personal experiences can go unacknowledged for its individual effect or lack of wide acclaim.

Breaking things down to their value of best or worst takes away our own experiences of the year. While some things may have been good or bad, people experience things differently, from various perspectives and differences.

Everyone has their own experience and opinion of the year and of the little moments and incredible people who pop up in our memory. These aspects are what we should take away from 2014 and from each year that follows.

When we evaluate other things for their ranking order, we evade self-evaluation and reflection by comparing and critiquing outwardly instead of inwardly. It can be beneficial to see how we changed and grew through the year and how the many things we encountered played a role.

With another year ending way too quickly, it is a common response to reflect on what made it significant and appraise different aspects for value. It is a popular activity yet a poor way to look back on a year that has been complex, with great difficulties as well as extreme joys.

As we go into a crazy time and hope to come out alive, we can start to think about the year and ourselves in retrospect, noting some good and bad while also remembering the little mediocre things. The year has evolved, as have we as individuals, and now is a good time to take note of what happened, learn from it and go from there. 2015 holds the promise of new great things and inevitably some terrible things.

Get ready to enjoy it rather than rank it.

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