2016 is almost over. This garbage, hot mess of a year is almost finished with its final act. We only have two weeks left, but even that seems too much to have to go through.
The premature deaths of artists and entertainment icons, the most toxic Presidential election in modern history, the tragedies in Aleppo, and the bitter-sweet outcome of the Standing Rock peaceful protests have us so warped with feelings of negativity, exhaustion, paranoia, fear, and hopelessness. How could we go into this year with a positive attitude? I can tell you what NOT to do. Don’t just “wish” that 2017 will be kind to you.
When I see posts that say, “Dear 2017, please be good to me” or “2017 be kind to me,” it makes me well, angry. Nothing will change by simply sharing a Facebook post that has a quote written in pretty cursive writing. The standard textbook definition of a year is as follows: “the orbital period of the Earth moving in its orbit around the Sun.” Years do not have feelings, nor a conscience. Years do not eat, sleep, or breathe, nor do they have friends or family. Years do not have hopes, goals, and dreams. The concept of time was created by us humans. The concept of time changing and treating us better is a temporary comfort. The realization then hits that sure, time can be a great thing. Many great things count on the concept of years and times but not by itself. It all starts with, well, you.
Many things are uncertain as we go into 2017. Marriage equality might be threatened. A woman’s right to choose is on the line. The wage gap between men and women is still an issue; as well as women of color’s pay wages. This upcoming year is too unstable for you to just wish for something good to happen. Being physically present and in control of your life is more dire now than ever.
I see too often people hoping for a better year in January, then by July, they are ready to abandon ship and start over again the following January. I had a teacher in high school say that madness was the act of doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. I feel as though we are all guilty of that. Especially me. We’re changing very little about our lives, but are expecting to get different results the following year. You can wish and wish all you want. You’re not going to get that dream job, that new house, that degree, by doing things that were proven counterproductive in previous years.
Now, getting a new job, a degree, or a house isn’t the only thing you can do different to make 2017 a better year. Maybe you finally find a hobby that you love. Do something that scares you. Make a new friend.
Maybe you finally are getting that diagnosis you’ve been looking for. You finally have gone to therapy to sort out your personal problems. Become kinder to yourself. With all of the negativity in the news lately, kindness is what we really need in the world.
If you want to feel more alive in the world, by all means, become more informed by what’s going on in the world. I know the news lately is as appealing as a rusty knife to the stomach. However, nothing changes when people turn a blind eye to injustice. Be informed about Aleppo. Research what’s going on at Standing Rock. If you believe in a woman’s right to choose, help at Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health areas. Become an intersectional feminist (Everyone is welcome!). Go to a peaceful protest. Stand up for something. Make your voice heard.
Nothing gets done by just wishing for it, contrary to what Disney films have taught us. 2017 is looking bleak and hopeless right now. But if we find it in ourselves to stand up and take control of our lives, we may have a chance to turn this year around before it even starts.
2017 will not be kind to you; so do something about it.