2016 has been a rough year– this doesn’t need to be said anymore. I personally feel like I was dragged behind a truck over a bumpy road for a while, sucker punched a few times, and spat on for good measure. There’s political strife, there’s personal heartbreak, there are pure WTF moments (e.g., the car that crashed through my font yard last week). Yet I survived 2016 (unlike so many icons of creativity and resistance). And as it draws to a close, I have to wonder what 2017 holds. Great challenges, without a doubt. We must prepare ourselves to meet them head-on or risk being a) destroyed, literally or metaphorically b) complicit in evil, or c) all of the above.
Lots of folks have helped spur us to action— call your senators, organize, donate to social safety net and civil liberties groups. This is needed. This is good. Do that. Plenty of others have counseled self-care— also good advice. But I think we also need to take a step back, and start with self-inquiry. What can we learn about ourselves from the relentless onslaught of minor irritation and major trauma of 2016? How can we authentically move forward with our lives without giving into despair or fear, or being ruled by anger alone? What has this mind-fuck of a year shown us about ourselves?
It’s time to take inventory, and take action:
Where are you ignorant? Learn.
Where are you weak? Strengthen.
Where are you strong? Serve.
Where are you tender? Guard.
These actions will look different for everybody. Mine include reading new things (a lot– go go gadget library card), listening more, learning self-defense (2017: the year I become a badass!), training my body in strength and endurance (stock up on tiger balm), practicing meditation (I’m using headspace), using my professional life as a teacher and nurse practitioner to serve my values (mobile clinic FTW), improving my relationships to support people I love, purging my life of toxic relationships (bye felecia), and recognizing my sensitivity is a strength that must be nurtured and unfurled carefully. And there will be more, as the inventory goes on.
What about you? How can you use the difficult times behind us to inform self-improvement that will allow you to meet new challenges?