It’s a New Year! Possibilities are endless! 2017 can be magical!!
Ok, we’ll, let’s be honest though, some of it WILL be shit. It’s the 3rd of January and chances are, we’ve all already had a fair few shit moments. So far in 2017, we’ve had to try and sort our car out after the lights suddenly (and terrifyingly) blew on a dark country road. I was so worried about some upcoming work and how I was going to succeed, I threw up and then cried (it was quite a ridiculous reaction but when the holiday finishes and deadlines loom, panic seems to sneak in there..!). Holly hasn’t been sleeping very well so both my husband and I are exhausted. And we’ve had to cancel a date night because of some sickness. And it’s only day three! Admittedly nothing devastatingly terrible but let’s not pretend that a New Year is a guaranteed fresh start pill. The truth is real life has its ups and downs and although days, weeks, months and years will be remembered as relatively good or bad especially in hindsight, we’re never free of challenges.
This time last year we went through the hardest times of our lives and in my diary in 3rd January, there is a passage about recent hospital results; I wrote about how I’m terrified that I’m not going to ever meet my new baby and that I can’t keep my mind straight long enough to be able to deal with it. So this year we’re breathing a HUGE sigh of relief that blown fuses in the car and work stress are our biggest worries. But even looking back on my Timehop, on this day, I had enjoyed a spa bath, and had a fabulous family dinner out. So even on really dark days, there is light. And similarly, on the best days, there are bad points.
What I’m ramblingly saying is that whilst New Years is a great time to reflect and look forward, give yourself a break and remember not to pin everything on one side of the picture. Learn from your mistakes and by all means set goals but don’t hang yourself on things you got wrong. It’s about how you look at it.
So in 2016, on paper my year could come across in a few different ways, two as follows (from my own personal perspective);
1. I had a beautiful healthy baby girl, got a new job, started a really exciting new project, had my first full year as a theatre Company Director, started to regain control of my epilepsy and started to build my fitness back up after my last pregnancy. We also went on two family holidays and my eldest started nursery where she is extremely happy.
2. My epilepsy got miles worse at the beginning of the year, and I’m still not able to be on a lower dose medication. I’ve been told I can’t safely have anymore children and will be having an operation in 2017 to ensure I don’t. I’m still having multiple UTI’s as my kidneys and water functions haven’t yet recovered from the pregnancy. After being signed off work for four months at the beginning of the year, I was also made redundant and I have consequently started this year owing money after having to borrow a bit. My baby has minor digestive problems because I wasn’t able to carry her quite long enough in the pregnancy for her digestive system to finish developing. I had to postpone publishing my book because I wasn’t well enough and I still haven’t got round to doing so, and to round it off, my opportunities working in Science in Europe have been cut off due to the political goings on of 2016.
Reading the two out loud sounds like one great year and one terrible year. But they are the same year, with different perspectives. One of them is the one on social media, the one that other people see, the highlights (and to be honest the way I’ll look back and remember it). The second is the backstage pass, the self punishing, overly judgemental view that I, of course, over think about constantly late at night whilst I can’t sleep. They are both imperfect views.
Similarly, this year can be looked forward at very differently. It could be seen as the year I’m doing some work in America and potentially making some minor but important changes to education in the UK. Or it’s the year I officially lose the ability to have children, another year of battling epilepsy and a year I could potentially hugely fail with my education plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking forward or looking back, we can all be too hard on ourselves in the past, present AND the future, it’s a skill…!
So if you’ve concentrated too much on your backstage pass view of 2016, try and have a look through other people’s eyes, because the highlights reel isn’t a lie. As a society we have a sad tendency to feel like the positive things we put out are just a mask to the negatives but that’s not true. They are two separate things and one doesn’t take away the other. It’s all part of our life, but the choice not to dwell or publicise the negative is, in my opinion, a sensible one. When we look back, we’ll see the results of the lessons we’ve learnt from the bad times but we don’t need to relive it. We need to use the highlights as a balm, to soothe away the difficulties, and remind us that the struggles are worth it or aren’t the strongest things. We all strive for the highlights, the low points have their place but they don’t deserve the limelight after they’ve taught us what we need to know.
I’m choosing to put view 2 of 2016 to bed because view 1 is the one that really matters. And I choose to concentrate on view 1 of 2017. Because given the chance, positivity does breed more positivity. HOWEVER, I’m sure there’ll be days when I think ‘oh God I can’t do this anymore/I’m not good enough for this/this is all too much’ etc etc.. And when that happens I’ll look to the fresh start. Not January 1st, that’s just an arbitrary date used in the calendar. Any time can be a fresh start, and you can have as many as you like. So if on February 21st you have a duvet day when you think there’ll be nothing good in the world ever again, fear not. Put it to bed and make 22nd February your fresh start. And then again the 24th if need be. Or halfway through the 21st if you fancy! When you want to or when you’re strong enough to or when it feels right, you have the power to stamp your foot and say ‘no this is enough, I’m changing direction/I’m altering my plan/I’m adjusting my perspective’. You don’t miss your chance if you don’t start the year singing, dancing with fireworks going off behind you!
Life is a balance. Success is changeable, happiness is part of the journey, not a fixed destination. And yes I’m aware I’m speaking in cliches now but it’s true. Today has not been a particularly great day for me personally, too much work, I’ve let stress get on top of me and I don’t have confidence in my ability to succeed. Does that mean my 2017 is doomed? Of course not! It doesn’t even mean my Tuesday is doomed.
So dear comrades, I will wish you a Happy New Year because I hope you had a good one. But if you didn’t, you’re not a failure, or a bad person, or doomed to have a terrible year. I believe in you, even if you don’t. And I see you through your highlights reel, so try and do yourself that same kindness when you’re being hard on yourself. If you started 2017 curled in a ball crying, it still means that it’s going to be your year.
It doesn’t mean magic doesn’t exist, it does, and it’s worth looking for it. For me today, I found magic in a hot chocolate in the bath. I’ve had a little cry, and I’m bathing in the dark because the light bulbs gone…! But I made a hot chocolate and coupled with the hot bath, even with the tears, it’s a little mug of magic. It’s not a great day, but all it needed was a little semblance of sunshine. Today’s society has so many pressures and we’re all supposed to strive for these massive gestures of joy or these very tough to attain slices of success. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we don’t all need to save the world every day. Some days, enjoying a hot chocolate is enough, so GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
A very sincere Happy New Year comrades, you are imperfectly and deliciously you, and your highlights are more than you give them credit for. And that’s a little bit magic. Here’s to it!