Thank you, Barack Obama.

I started this blog as a bored, unmotivated college graduate in December 2009, as a means to relieve my daily musings about life, culture and entertainment from people’s Facebook feeds.

My life had little purpose and I was making practically no money, but I was blissfully unfettered from the obligations of having a full-time job, and I was almost completely disinterested in politics. A search in the archives of this blog’s early days will reveal virtually zero posts with a political agenda.

Indeed, in the blog’s first full year in 2010, I’d wager that “Snooki” appeared more times than “Obama.”

At the time, Barack Obama’s presidency was in its fledgling state. I probably never would have guessed that I’d still be blogging regularly more than seven years later, as his two-term presidency comes to an end.

obama-2008

It wasn’t until the last few years when I really started to appreciate the significance of Obama and all that he has accomplished, and attempted to accomplish.

Without a doubt, it’s one of my biggest regrets that I wasn’t more politically conscious during Obama’s rise in 2008. The way he galvanized and captivated an entire nation is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and may never see again.

The nation was in trouble. We were mired in two bloody wars we had no business being involved in. The economy was on the verge of collapse. Belief in government was not high.

And then came Obama, a first-term junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, trying to achieve something that was once unthinkable – an African-American leading a country whose sustainability and subsequent emergence as a world power more than 200 years ago was reliant on slavery; a country that required a massive civil rights movement a mere five decades ago to squash the widespread remnants of inequality.

People looked at him to restore their faith in democracy.

“Yes We Can,” was his rallying cry. And he was elected.

Eight years later, It’s almost impossible to discuss Obama without it leading to a political argument. Liberal and Conservative ideologies have diverged so extravagantly that our natural instincts are to attack the other rather than to find common ground.

The political environment is so polarized that the accomplishments that Obama supporters praise are the very same things his critics name to lambaste him.

Obamacare. The Iran nuclear deal. Opening relations with Cuba. His stimulus and auto bailout to save the economy. His numerous environmental protections.

That doesn’t count the death of Osama Bin Laden and his support for marriage equality.

But there’s some things about Obama that can’t be denied, no matter how much others try to: his unrivaled orating skills and his unique ability to inspire; his inclination to always take the high road, even when others tried their hardest to bring him down; and the exemplary behavior he has displayed on an international stage as the top representative of our nation.

For eight years, Obama has acted how a president should. For eight years, he tried to help people the best way he can, with almost no support from Congress. And not some people — all people.

obama-farewell

And that’s one of the reasons it’s been so hard for some people to say goodbye.

Obama was more than a president. He was a symbol of how far we have come. Of how far we could still go. And he has done it with nothing but class for eight years.

Hate him or love him, Obama will be a name that will never be forgotten as long as America exists. Roads and schools will be named after him. Statues will be erected in his honor. One day, he may find himself on currency.

Only time will tell whether his legislative accomplishments truly set the country on a brighter path, and how much the next administration set in motion to derail it.

On a personal note, I will sincerely miss Obama. I am proud that he is my president, and that he has been the face of our country for eight years. I’m in awe of his endless optimism and determination, even in the face of adversity every single day.

And after watching him say goodbye on Tuesday night in Chicago, I couldn’t help but become emotional.

“Yes we can,” he concluded at his speech’s end, repeating his rallying cry from more than eight years ago — this time, with one final addendum.

“Yes we did.”

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