2016 was a year few of us will ever forget. But while many will remember it as a year of challenge and heartbreak, there were moments of celebration and introspection as well. This range of human emotion was reflected in Quartz’s Ideas essays over the past 12 months well, many of which expressed frustration and sadness—as well as hope, self-examination, and even joy.
The Ideas section of Quartz has published many, many personal accounts over the past 12 months so a top 10 list was essentially impossible. Here, in no particular order, are some of the pieces that resonated the most with us this past year.
By Helena Bala
“I let people see what they want—the picture of me that’s easiest to digest. It’s neater than the truth. There’s so much criticism directed at millennials nowadays that any whisper of a complaint draws out mass accusations of entitlement—even where it doesn’t exist. It’s all about the bootstraps stories and the easy narratives of people who struggled but then they just pulled themselves together and made it.”
By Molly Rubin
“I didn’t have a cheat sheet. I couldn’t really change the odds. But just knowing the odds gave me the confidence I needed to perform well under pressure. Because I had the tools to make an informed decision, the game didn’t feel so random anymore.”
By Reniqua Allen
“America, you bastard. You are an idea, a system that we now see was always built on deception, theft, destruction, violence, slavery, and rape. You tout supremacy and exceptionalism, but your embrace of privilege, patriarchy, and whiteness proves otherwise. It proves you’re no better than the rest.”
Delivering balloons to funeral homes made me care about humanity more than my millennial side hustle
By Michael Rogan
“I’d answered the Craigslist ad thinking I’d be working in a Norman Rockwell painting, handing bright fun to smiling kids all day. I would have been more apprehensive had I known I’d be working 10-hour days transporting these fragile balls of panic all over Manhattan.”
By Maggie Cleary
“Guantanamo Bay is a panoply of contradictions. It is military base representing freedom and justice that is situated on a less-than-welcoming communist island. Now it is an island lost in time, perched in the recesses of the American imagination. In one afternoon you can drive by Camp X-Ray, where the detainees were first brought after they were captured, and then swing by a gift store and pick up t-shirts, shot glasses, and a stuffed iguana.”