Well, here we are. The first day of 2017.
It’s a day like any other, there’s objectively nothing special about it; the sun has gone up and down, our planet is still turning at the same speed. But hey, if there’s anything I’ve understood this year, it’s that events and moments don’t have any other meaning than the one you choose to give them. We create the stories that fill our lives and make them worth living.
My journey has had a lot of twists and turns this year, and I choose to see this day as a symbol. The symbol of the end of a life-changing chapter of my book, the conclusion of one of the beautiful stories that make up my bigger story. The beginning of a new chapter.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, maybe it’s because I can’t help but turning everything into images, signs and metaphors, maybe it’s because my life often feels like a movie, maybe we all do and there’s nothing wrong with that. After the crazy year we’ve had, we deserve to believe that 2017 marks the beginning of some kind of change – anything better than 2016, please!
2016, year of countless attacks, conflicts and sad events, year of Brexit, of Trump. A year where the world has watched itself accelerate down the mad slope that seems to be leading us to our doom, a slope it has been on for a long time already. It took a year like 2016 for many people to finally wake up to the hard truths of our fucked up system. Yeah, no one can pretend that everything is okay anymore.
It has also been a year of personal challenges for many. It seems like the negative things happening at a larger scale are reflecting in our personal lives, as if some kind of curse had been thrown at all of us, as if Earth itself is taking its revenge. To be honest, this does not surprise me. Each and everyone is connected, and it is not sustainable for us, privileged, to live in a bubble of easy and happy lives while the world around is crumbling down. That’s just impossible, and to think otherwise for such a long time was a foolish idea.
So, maybe we should stop pretending. I don’t know about you, but as much as I’d like to, I am not okay. I am very lucky and I feel very grateful for the amazing life that I’ve been given, but when I look outside of my bubble, I am not okay. I don’t want to be okay, actually. I don’t want to be okay witnessing a world that is so ill, I don’t want to be okay knowing that there are still so many injustices and wars, so much hate and overconsumption, among many, many other problems.
I know that many people feel this way. They don’t understand why they feel so unhappy when in theory, they have nothing “real” to complain about compared to others. Something feels wrong about getting upset at the sight of dying children when sitting in your warm, comfortable couch with a full belly. So the guilt creeps in, and the shame, the self-judgment of being too emotional, too weak, too selfish. So we change channels, because it’s easier to look away than to feel that way.
I’ll tell you what, I’ve carried that guilt for a long time (and often still do), and it has never led me anywhere. It has never pushed me to anything good, to anything else than self-loathing and hiding in my bed, too afraid to go out there and dare to be happy, because others can’t, because who am I to make any change.
On the contrary, what has pushed me to go out there and reach out to people is compassion and empathy, is feeling sad for the world, is my love for it. Guilt has only ever gotten in the way of feeling connected to myself and to other people. Guilt is useless and to be honest, a pretty selfish feeling at the end of the day. People shouldn’t help other people or try to be better because they feel guilty, they should do it because they feel for others, because something feels wrong about how things are right now.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti
I don’t WANT to always be okay. I don’t want to have to pretend any longer that the world’s pain doesn’t affect me, that happiness is only a product of my mind, like so many “self-help” books and philosophies want to convince us of. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that positive thoughts don’t contribute to happiness (they do!) or that it is impossible to ever be happy as an empathetic person in today’s world. I am just saying that sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay. These feelings are there for a reason, they are there to show us that something needs to change.
Someone told me one day that happy people never start revolutions. Today more than ever, I understand what he meant. I don’t ever want to be perfectly content in a world where the 1% possess 90% of the riches of the globe and where racism and extremism are on the rise everywhere while a picture of a child covered in ashes gets as much attention as a celebrity break-up. I never want to be “okay” with that.
Yes, I want to be happy in my moments of joy, love and humility. But I also want to feel angry when arguing about something that makes my blood boil or sad and afraid when witnessing the horrors of the world.
I want to be heartbroken that a young, beautiful and talented person I’ve had the chance to know will not get to ride this fragile roller coaster that is life for much longer. I don’t want to see it as anything else but tragic and unfair.
I want this pain to inspire me to be a better person, to live to the fullest, to stop wasting time pretending to be someone or something I’m not and hiding my feelings, my constant, overwhelming, contradictory feelings.
I want to forgive myself for feeling lost and confused, for making mistakes. I want to be proud for standing up for myself, for having come so far, for smiling even when I feel hopeless inside.
I want to be afraid, but I also want to be brave enough to overcome that fear, and to dive into the uncertain. I want to be vulnerable, I want to feel the full spectrum of emotions.
I never want to stop laughing, dancing, crying, getting high, making love, eating, writing, traveling! I want to be alive, with all the ups and downs that come with that gift.
I want to keep being myself, with all of my contradictions. I want to be the depressed optimist that someone I love showed me I am, that I chose to be.
I want people to understand all of this and to be okay with not being okay sometimes, and to realize that we’re not alone and that if maybe we accept being not okay together today, we can work to becoming better together tomorrow.
I don’t want to ever give up.
Well, I guess that was my wish list for 2017.
2016, thank you for all the love you brought into my life, fuck you for being such a shitty year and goodbye. Let’s dive into this year together full of will to change and love, as if we had a clue of what we’re doing, and who knows, maybe we can fake it until we make it. And if it doesn’t work in 2017, we’ll keep trying in 2018.
That’s the meaning I choose to give to this day.
If you agree with me, help me spread the word!
Happy New Year! 🙂