This article was published 6 years ago. My views have probably evolved muchly since.
How has 2016 treated me?
The order of wording in that question doesn’t sit right. For one, the year is for all intensive purposes a (relatively) arbitrary measurement of time and really holds no direct sway on anyone. Like asking how the 1,000 kilometre journey treated you, or how the 39 degree Celsius bath treated you? I get that the real question is what has been your experience during this time, but I think some people forget this and, instead, personify the measurement (the year in this case) into something that can sentiently control their experience.
The way the question is phrased implies I did not have as much control over this experience as I actually did. How I treated the period of year (and the months, weeks, and days within it) are more relevant, in my opinion. Reordering the words forces a change in perspective.
Overall it has been an amazing year, beginning with a firework beach party in Rio and potentially ending with a relaxed massage by the swimming pool, there have been a whirlwind of adventures through the 365 odd planetary revolutions between.
Sure, there have been challenges and hard lessons, depressive times, difficulties, all those elements that serve our growth. And there have also been wonderful adventures, meeting of so many new and great people, many expressions of joyful moments, travels, great opportunities, successfully making it to the blissful other sides of the aforementioned challenges. And, of course, lots of delicious dining to punctuate the journey 😋
If 2016 were a mountain instead of a year and each of us an avid climber, it was a particularly great climb, stretching me in parts, allowing me to show off in others, keeping me on my toes, and, actually like every other year, preparing for the next mountain. Every climber looks at their next challenge with enthusiasm, no matter how high and how difficult. In fact, the more challenging the better. Every year I experience something more than the previous and the intention is to always grow, especially through any adversity. Perhaps it is that attitude that makes it hard to see any year as bad, no matter how challenging.
If this has been a rough year for you, rather break it down to months and check in how they’ve been. How was your December, your November, your July? What were your highlights week to week? What were the silver linings, the gifts from your challenges no matter how big or small? What good can you take from this year and know that you are now more able to tackle the next mountain that is labelled 2017?
For many days of this year (alas I skipped some due to lack of discipline), I made a record of the new things experienced in that day (my Carpe Diem entry), as well as the day’s highlights (a list of things that I was grateful or joyful for). Focusing on what each day gave or brought me, what I had done and achieved and experienced, helped me focus on the good that is in my life. To randomly turn to any entry in my journal and rekindle those memories is amazing. And not all the days were “good” by conventional standards. There were some where I was seriously suicidal, days that held little hope, and fewer friends, days that left me, as a non-employed individual, seriously contemplating and questioning my life choices. This has certainly not been a year completely laden with roses, but no year has ever been that.
And it’s not to say that bad things should be ignored. While most of my traumas have been personal and mostly manageable, many may experience tremendous hardship that rocks their world. Adjusting perspective doesn’t change the event or circumstance. It changes what you will do about it and how you will come through the other side. I wrote a piece not too long ago about the teenage war displaced refugee who made it into this year’s Olympic Games. She is merely one example of somebody who faced extreme hardship and is still able to share her brilliant smile with the world.
Knowing the travesty that so many have faced this year, I see how little I have to complain about. And standing on the brink of the calendar change over, looking back on my memories, there is certainly more sun than shadow. It has been a good year to be alive. And I know without doubt that I will treat 2017 even better 😉