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Worst Year and Best Year

Started by Max Rockatansky, January 01, 2021, 12:22:22 AM

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Max Rockatansky

Pretty much the entire day I've heard people say that 2020 has been the worst year of their lives.  I thought that sentiment was interesting given it seems like an obvious answer (given COVID largely) but I got to thinking, was it really all that bad for me personally?  When I thought about it aside from March and April the totality of 2020 wasn't really all that bad for me.  I ended up getting to a lot of outdoor oriented bucket list items done, spent two weeks in Mexico before March, got to build my garage gym after kicking down the road for years, and for the most part had a slight renaissance in terms of my career.  So to that end, I wondered what actually the worst year of my life?...and the best?

In terms of the worst year that was obvious for me, it was by far 2001.  I moved across the country in 2001 right out high school on my own dime which in retrospect was a steep transition.  Money was extremely hard to come by and career prospects were non-existent.  I recall not having enough money for food at time and not enough life experience to find the resources to do something about it.  I also didn't have health insurance and ended up getting Valley Fever for awhile to top it off (at least I lost some weight I needed to lose for physical agility tests).  To top it off 9/11 happened and that really made finding steady employment a difficult to thing (especially since I was 18 at the time).  Things got gradually better progressing to 2004 but 2002 and 2003 were on a high plain of misery also. 

Conversely I would rate 2017 as the best year for me personally.  It wasn't the best year for travel but it was really high up there was over 20 National Parks visited.  At work things were good and I even reached a running milestone that I was trying to achieve for years.  To top it off I ended up meeting/dating my future wife. 

I know this is a subject measure but I thought it would be interesting to find out what other posters have for their best/worst personal years.

Edit:  Another strong contender for worst year would be 2010.  I got hit by a car when I was out running (driver ran the stop sign) and spent a large portion of the year in physical therapy.  I also foreclosed on a house partially due to that accident but more so because of the economic recession obliterating 70% of my home value.  2015 wasn't very good given my Mon died after a prolonged fight with lung cancer.  I also ended up in the hospital after losing 15 pounds of water weight during a run.  The amount of heart monitors I was hooked up after that incident is something that I ever forget, truly miserable experience. 

2016 on the other hand was probably all the time best travel year.  My Dog and I moved back to the West Coast which was an instant boon in relieving how bored I was in Florida from 2013-15.  I do have a lot of affinity for my road travel in 2012 given I worked 150 nights on the road and visited 24 National Parks. 


Great thread! I thought about saying something along these lines in the New Year's thread, but didn't want to start rambling over there.

Of course "2020! Worst Year Ever!"™ is the cliche thing to say, but for me, 2020 was definitely not the worst year. It was certainly the weirdest, but in a way that I personally found more positive than negative. Less socializing is definitely OK with me, the reduced travel was depressing at first but you get accustomed to it after a while. More free time has been a positive thing on balance. I do struggle with time management as evidenced by how much time I spend here and on Google Maps, etc., but I've had a few big projects going on which has forced me to balance things out and kept me from getting bored - and in fact at times I've felt busier than ever before.

I'm pretty young, of course, so take this with a grain of salt, but I'd say 2015 for best year. That was my sophomore year of high school and that was right at the point where I started to feel like an adult, but without the stress and responsibility that comes with being an actual adult. I see 15 and 16 year-olds now and can't help but smile, remembering how much older I felt at their age than I actually was. Good times though.

I had - or at least think I had - a fairly normal life as a kid, and sometimes I feel like I can hardly remember anything prior to about 2010, so for worst year I'm going to go with 2018. It was my first year with a full-time job, and various factors caused a lot of stress, some of it self-inflicted, to the point where I started to really worry about my long term mental and physical health. That kind of blended into 2019 when things gradually got better, then 2020 happened and here we are.

Like I alluded to in the New Year's thread, I often question what the pandemic has done to my sense of time. It's almost like time is going both faster and slower than usual depending on how it hits you in the moment, while simultaneously not really even mattering anymore. Sometimes 2019 feels like it was just the other night, other times it feels like it was a completely different lifetime. It's weird.


2004 was my personal worst. Two eye surgeries, the first of which included an implant that left me temporarily blind in one eye, until it recovered enough for the second surgery to remove the implant. Then my mother died. Her prolonged illness meant time off work for several cross-country flights to visit her as her condition deteriorated.

Society-wide, 1968 was pretty awful. Two major assassinations, serious social unrest over both the Vietnam War and race relations. The 9/11 attacks in 2001 were also painful, but I think less of a threat to social stability.

Personal best was probably 2008. My office got an unexpectedly quick win in a merger litigation that had kept most of the office busy. We went instantly from "totally swamped" to "desperately looking for work to do". My management welcomed my request to take most of the summer off, which made their "looking for work" effort easier. That summer was wall-to-wall road trips, including a cross-country drive to the Pacific Northwest which I don't normally visit often.
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2020 wasn't the worst year, but it's been very strange.

I think it was 2017 where our fiscal situation nearly collapsed and got pretty dicey (long story -- thought we had a solid backup plan that fell through from taking a risk).  That was more stressful than 2020.
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.


If it weren't for COVID, this year would be pretty unremarkable, even with wildfires, race riots, and the various famous people we lost. I'm sure that in 1942, people also took non-war related events and concluded it was also the worst year ever.

Big John


Best 1985
Worst: 1995


2009 was the worst for me.  Mrs. wanderer had a bad health scare (Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) where the chemo was worse than the disease and we almost lost her a couple times.  I had a hard time dealing with that, the day job, and maintaining the household.  But it also taught me a lesson in what was really important (loved ones) and to not sweat the small stuff of everything else.  (She recovered and has been doing well since.)


2007-2010 was one long dark winter for me. I'd have to say 2015 may have been my best personal year. I got to travel solo for the first time unimpeded and attended three road meets.
self-certified as the dumbest person on this board for 5 years running


Maybe it's because I'm young, but 2020 was my worst year. I know the OP said that taking out March and April, the year was decent on balance - but for me, life didn't really change in May, or June, or October... schools still closed, hangouts still cancelled, vacations and proms and friends' graduation parties all tossed down the shitter, as they are for the foreseeable future. Maybe, for me, it's the fact that the year tried its damnedest to go out on a bad note - in December, my diabetic grandma got COVID, my puppy ended up in the ER, and my friend almost killed himself, before the year finally ran out of time.

Best year? As strange as it sounds, 2020 (before the virus wiped it out) was on track to be the best year of my life. The school year was going great, I had straight A's, I got a girlfriend, I was playing soccer, I was making money, I wasn't spending hardly any weekends in State College. Then, like a flipped switch, every single one of those dropped off.

So fuck 2020. Hopefully 2021 is better - with vaccines coming, I think it will be.


best probably 2013.  Got married, my first year playing fantasy football.  Worst would be a year in Junior High probably 1983.  Most mixed year would be 2006 easily enough good things happened to make it my best but also some really bad things happened to make it my worst.


This time last year I was only a few months away from traveling to Tokyo for a week in Japan. Now...I'm a few YEARS away from such a trip. I was also planning a short trip from Indy to Paris last year. But that's not the only reason last year was my worst. It began with my mom in the hospital. She then moved to a nursing home facility for rehabilitation and then back home. At the end of January she went back to the hospital after almost dying and then back to the same nursing home and then back home and then back to the hospital and same nursing home for a third time. This was all before April 1. By the end of the month she had contracted COVID and died early in May. We never had a funeral for her, we couldn't as churches were closed. I don't think there's ever going to be a strong contest for worst year.

Either 2016, 2017 or 2018 would contest for a better year as I traveled to Canada, New York, Chicago, London and San Francisco all cities I've wanted to visit.


While I wasn't alive then, I agree with 1968 being pretty bad (from a United States point of view).

Traveled, plus
US 1A, 13, 44, 50, 302
MA 22, 35, 40, 107, 109, 126, 141, 159
ME 22, 25, 26, 77, 100
NH 27, 111A(E); CA 133; NY 366; GA 42, 140; FL A1A, 7; CT 32; VT 2A, 5A; PA 3, 51, 60, QC 162, 165, 263; 🇬🇧A100, A3211, A3213, A3215, A4222; 🇫🇷95 D316

Lowest untraveled: 36


Personally 2020 wasn't so bad for me, but I can see statistically that a lot of people will justifiably say 2020 was their worst. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone's mileage will vary.


2014 was easily the worst year for me. My grandma died of a massive stroke that escalated into a heart attack here at the house. By the time the ambulance got here, it was too late. That really fucked me up since I spent 95% of my life with my grandparents. We were very close. My grandpa had already died in 1999 from COPD, and while that hit hard, losing my grandma was worse since I was around her more since she outlived him. If it wasn't for that, I would've said 2020 was the worst because of Covid. I've been fortunate so far to have avoided catching that shit, but the impact of it screwed things up for me.

As for my best year, I'd say it's a tie between 1996 and 2001. In 1996, both my grandparents were still alive and the only worse thing that happened was when I caught chickenpox from someone else in my 1st grade class during the first part of the year. That sucked. Other than that, everything was copacetic. In 2001, I had a damn good summer hanging out with friends in my neighborhood and Christmas that year was awesome.
“I don’t know whether to wind my ass or scratch my watch!” - Jim Cornette


I lost track of which thread I was reading. Off to a good start this year!

Quote from: 1995hoo on January 01, 2021, 10:43:11 AM
New Year's Eve felt like sort of a conundrum for us. My wife's sister was born on December 31. But she died of cancer last March, so it made "celebrating" seem just wrong or weird. We did raise our glasses at dinner in recognition of her birthday.

For me, 2020 was by no means the "worst" year of my life. It was my first full year in my current job, which is the best one I've had (not the best-paying, but the one for which I'm best-suited and that I enjoy the most). The telecommuting due to the pandemic wasn't a huge issue because I was already telecommuting anyway. I agree with other folks who say it was certainly the "strangest" year they've ever had. Biggest thing for me was not having sports to watch on TV at night and on the weekends for most of the spring and the first half of the summer. I felt kind of lost.

I'm not sure what the worst year of my life was. Problem is that even in the worst years, there were positives to balance out the bad.
"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
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commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"
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Quote from: Rothman on July 15, 2021, 07:52:59 AM
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Don't @ me. Seriously.


Worst: 2004 because I was coerced into confessing to something I didn't do and was suspended from school for 10 days, but then wasn't allowed to come back until March of 2005. After I was suspended, the things that I was coerced into confessing continued. It wasn't until my senior year 2006/07 that I received a written apology.

Best: 2019 because I finally got a place of my own

Honorable Mentions:

Worst: 2017 (became homeless, found a transitional house, rose up to be house manager in 2018)
Best: 2012 (kicked my pill habit and moved back to Massachusetts after spending 16 years in St. Louis


My best was probably 2019, as I got my driver's license, went on some fun trips, won a fantasy football tournament, and picked up music.

My worst would be 2020. Sounds cliche, but it was already horrible before the pandemic even started.
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Worst: 2020

Despite not having to worry about my job (thankfully) during the pandemic, everything else seemed to go wrong. My depression issues resurfaced, and my mental health tanked in the beginning of the year. I destroyed a lot of close friendships as a result. In the middle of the year everything came crashing down. I started having panic attacks that would convince me I was dying. Suddenly I couldn't think without worrying. I got diagnosed with 4 separate anxiety-related disorders and am on medication for it now. Even now I still have trouble with my anxiety. I've also felt increasingly lonely and sometimes my depression kicks me into that state even harder. I don't have many friends I can hang out with in real life; my social interaction is quite low, and it's shown on me. I'm too anxious about meeting people in real life to try and make friends, my insecurity issues are pretty severe and as a result I just kind of feel in limbo.

Best: 2020

Huh? How could 2020 be my best year? Well, in short, even though 2020 was the worst, I made a lot of positive changes in 2020. I finally started to get outside more and see the world. I forced myself to try new things and step outside of my comfort zone. I found someone who I enjoy hanging out with so much and we are able to talk about anything bothering us without fear of judgment. It sounds weird, but the changes that happened in 2020 negatively also forced me to change in positive ways. I really shed my old temper and became a much softer and kinder person. I found new interests that I enjoy a lot. I don't think I would've found them any other way then to be forced into them like I was.

Honorable mention: 2014 as my worst. Without going into too much detail, I was borderline suicidal this year. A lot of my mental health issues first showed themselves during this year, and I just brushed them off until they resurfaced violently last year.
Life would be boring if we didn't take an offramp every once in a while

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Quote from: Zeffy on March 25, 2021, 10:55:27 AM
How could 2020 be my best year? Well, in short, even though 2020 was the worst, I made a lot of positive changes in 2020.

I think that's great news.  Maybe it means the best/worse dichotomy will begin to narrow from here on out.  Hopefully?
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.
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Quote from: kphoger on March 25, 2021, 10:58:45 AM
Quote from: Zeffy on March 25, 2021, 10:55:27 AM
How could 2020 be my best year? Well, in short, even though 2020 was the worst, I made a lot of positive changes in 2020.

I think that's great news.  Maybe it means the best/worse dichotomy will begin to narrow from here on out.  Hopefully?

That's the hope. I can easily say there's been significant improvement since July 2020, which is when this all started. I'm just going to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things to teach keep reinforcing my progress.
Life would be boring if we didn't take an offramp every once in a while

A weird combination of a weather geek, roadgeek, car enthusiast and furry mixed with many anxiety related disorders


Trying new things is, I think, a good idea.  New people can and will let you down now and then, but new activities are entirely up to you.
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.
Visit scenic Orleans County, NY!
Male pronouns, please.

Quote from: Philip K. DickIf you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.


I thought I had already posted in this thread back around the time of the OP, but now that it resurfaced I see I never did.

So I'll contribute now and echo Zeffy's sentiment that 2020 was both the best & worst.

The early stages of the pandemic sent me down a dark path worrying/stressing about if things would ever be the same, but on the same token the lockdowns afforded me the chance to slow down and finally confront some things from my past that had been buried for so long I didn't even realize they were buried.  And this has allowed me to learn much about myself & why I do things the way I do (the big one being finally acknowledging to myself that although undiagnosed, I likely fall somewhere on the spectrum), and I've begun to change my relationships with my parents & my brother for the better (I later learned that he's gone on a similar soul-searching experience during the pandemic, so we now use each other as sounding boards for things we're working thru).

Quote from: Zeffy on March 25, 2021, 10:55:27 AM
It sounds weird, but the changes that happened in 2020 negatively also forced me to change in positive ways.

This is exactly how I feel - all the good that came for me in the back half of 2020 (and continuing into 2021) wouldn't have happened without the bad in the first half.  I don't think I'd be where I am now if the pandemic never happened.

Quote from: kphoger on March 25, 2021, 11:22:41 AM
Trying new things is, I think, a good idea.  New people can and will let you down now and then, but new activities are entirely up to you.

This is something I'm working to get better at as well.
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"How would they compete?"
"Let's say they rode together in a big buss."
"Is Ditka driving?"
"Of course!"
"Then I like da Bear buss."


2003 was pretty awesome in that I graduated college and met my wife a month after.

2009 might have been my worst from a job perspective, the Great Recession really took hold early in that year, but my oldest daughter was born that July so a mixed bag I suppose.

Worst for me was probably 2017. I lost both my parents in the span of 4 months.

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