This year has been, to put it quite bluntly, shit. Shitty shit shit. We’ve seen some of the most controversial campaigns and decisions in political history. We’ve lost some of the most iconic actors, musicians and role-models and we’ve endured more news stories of terrorism, violence and heart-break and than I care to think about. Globally, 2016 has been a bit of a travesty. But personally, it’s been pretty diabolical too. It’s been hard and stressful, my mental health has plummeted numerous times throughout the year, it has fallen into holes I didn’t know existed. There has been death (although no-one too close to me, thankfully) and I’ve seen people I know and love suffer. I’m going to leave it there because I’m not auditioning for the X Factor and this isn’t a sob story but today I wanted to talk about the importance of finding joy whenever you can, however you can. Finding happiness and enjoying the little things in life because when the world is as royally fucked as it is right now, the little things are so very important.
People find it very easy telling you how to be happy and how to make your problems disappear. “Just quit that job you hate”, “just be happier”, “just go on holiday it’ll make you feel better”. Just, just, just. But it just isn’t as easy as that and we all know it. Life isn’t as clean-cut and easy as quitting your job, leaving your unhappy relationship, jumping on a plane and travelling the world. Living in a lap of luxury for all of eternity. Although some people do quite literally quit their job and go travelling and I admire them for that, I really do. But as beautiful as their life looks on Instagram, I bet they have their share of problems, too.
I’m not going to go into why this year has been shit for me. Partly because I just wouldn’t know what to say and partly because well, I’d like to have a private life too and as open as I am about mental health related issues on this blog and on Twitter, I do keep some things to myself. But what this year has taught me more than anything is the importance of self-care, putting things into perspective and focusing on the little things. Being excited about the smaller pleasures in life because they are just as important as the big moments.
I’m definitely not know for portraying a “always spreading the positivity” attitude. In fact, the word ‘positivity‘ really grinds my gears but I’ve been trying to teach myself, through a whole range of mechanisms to find positives in little things, to be more mindful and focus on small achievements and small moments of joy and gratitude. Not only because the ‘big things’; holidays, events, promotions and celebrations are hard to come by – sometimes not coming by at all because plans have a habit of changing last minute – but because we need something to hold on to.
Things like cooking, trying new food and recipes, watching new YouTuber’s and going for massages are just some of the small, insignificant things I’ve enjoyed this year. Little, miniscule things that really don’t matter but are so important because if we don’t and can’t enjoy the small things then we will go crazy. We’ll lose the will to live and never, ever be satisfied. I felt that this year, definitely. More than once I felt like life was just closing in around me and I couldn’t be bothered getting out of bed because I felt I had nothing to get out of bed for. Chances are, I’ll feel that again. But I’ll push through. Hopefully.
I’m definitely not the only person to have complained about how awful this year has been. And if you’re one of those people, I’m really sorry and I hope 2017 is much, much kinder to you. I hope you can spend the next month reflecting, looking back at the good times you did have but also preparing for a better year to come. Not that we can really prepare for these things – we didn’t prepare for 2016 to be much a monumental fuck-up, let’s be honest. But on that note, if I was to say one thing to 2016, it would be;
“I didn’t think 2015 could be topped in the way of shittiness but you have really out-done yourself this year. 2016 has altered, ruined and changed many, many people’s lives and not always for the best. Personally, 2016 has taught me resilience. It has taught me that sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do to get by. It has taught me that you should always seek help and it will always be beneficial. It has taught me that self-care is fucking important and you should never, ever neglect yourself for anything or anyone else. You matter. You fucking matter more than anyone else on the planet and you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but your own.
It has taught me that everyone’s problems matter but there are always bigger pictures to look at. It taught me that the world is fucked up, always has been and always will be but it’s not one individual person’s duty to fix it. It’s taught me that nobody is perfect and nobody can save the planet but everyone can do their one tiny little bit to contribute.
Mostly, it has taught me that things aren’t always as bad as they may seem. That life is a rollercoaster; it ebbs and flows but you can’t just jump off when it plummets. Things change and will keep changing but you adapt and carry on and never, ever assume that something will be terrible and spend hours upon hours worrying about it because you, nor anybody else, is a mind-reader and cannot predict the future. It has also taught me that my counsellor is a wonderful woman because without her, I probably wouldn’t have realised all of that. Thanks for the lessons 2016 but good riddance. Here’s to the next month, always looking forward and always appreciating and enjoying the small things in life.”