How to Feel Better about 2016
Feeling good is not a quest, a journey, or a race, even. It is a battle we are going to wake up some days already having lost, and others, having won for no particular reason.
This year has been quite the battle; a declaration that, on even our mildest of days, certainly holds true. Around the world we have witnessed tremendous injustice, prejudice and cowardice, aggravated by the temptations of greed, insecurity and ego. When we live in this ego, gazing at what we can take, receive, or acquire, there seems to always be a losing team; an unneccesary loss from a made-up battle. When we look without, however, shifting our perspective to be one without insecurity, cravings and deficiency at the helm, a formula for good seems to manifest itself; one with a nucleus big enough of all of us to enjoy.
We are inconceivably lucky to be living in a country with this framework for kindness on the horizon; we have the support to do good and the resources to be nourished heard, and seen. We may feel defeated, exhausted, and wary; It is okay to say that we are. But we must continue to keep taking steps, to keep standing in the light and not in the shadows, basking in each opportunity to learn, fail, and grow up. We don’t have to be where we want to be now to contain to fuel that will get us to tomorrow. There is no set path to doing things, there is no secret sauce. There are just human beings, hearts, and lumps of curious consciousness.
All of my gentle wording would be so easy to absorb if we drew the shutters on our windows, buried our passports in chests and locks underground, and remained in our cocoons, boroughs and cities. This is a hard time for humanity. We have obstacles. But they are human, too - humans with desire to be heard, seen, felt and not forgotten. I, for one, yearn to hole up in a soft bed somewhere, light every candle and snuggle up to the people I love until I forget everything that hurts. But a part of me knows that this solace will dry up eventually, and after that I’ll be left with the proverbial pile of life laundry to fix, to clean, to sift through.
So, let’s start now. Let’s pick away, pick up our tired bones and put ourselves together. Let’s fold, sort, move along, throw out the mismatched socks and darn the unworn tights with rips from dancing at 3am on a weeknight. Our world needs us. But we need us, too. Here are some tips for practising self-care, self-awareness, and self-love this holiday season. Rest up, love.
Find your Friends
You don't need seven, or twelve, or eight hundred friends in your circle if two or three give you enough light to rival times square. What matters is your feeling, your fuel, your heart when you're around the people you love so much; are they present? Are they really there, sitting at coffee in front of you, or are they simply looking in a mirror, staring at you in a way that seeks to serve them? So much of life is a balance, a shedding of our egos, and now more than ever we need to live as one. Check that. Shed what doesn't serve you. Reach out to who - and what - does.
Embrace the Ugly
Just like so much in our modern vocabulary, redefine what ugly means for you, or choose to remove it from your vocabulary entirely. For me, it evokes a feeling - like Beauty and what that object radiates, ugly to me evokes crunchy, gritty, hard, raw. Through the grit and grime of ugly feelings come the most profound and shimmering kinds of beauty - a down-and-dirty dance class, covered in sweat, a photoshoot that forces me to push through some of the most crippling kinds of self doubt, a lecture in front of a group of my peers, a conversation with someone struggling, a way that I can help. Uncomfortable moments yield the most brilliant insight, the most crackling beauty, the most deep-rooted brand of trust, love, understanding. Don't run from chances to grow.
You know that feeling you have when you're in a fresh romantic relationship, and you're just so excited, so invested, so attentive? You'd happily spend an hour making sure your partner feels heard, and loved, and healthy, but rarely do we direct this much attention towards ourselves.
So, do that.
Let yourself know that you're the fucking best, you're worthy of rest, of a beautiful meal, of good sex, conversation, literature, art. Do a face mask. Have an epsom salt bath. Start writing again. Sit under a pine tree and smell that winter air. Do your thing.
When you feel torn about the injustices in the world, use the plethora of resources we are so lucky to have to feed this fire. Instead of scrolling on Instagram, search for ways to get involved, ways to reach out and sit up in 2017. With social media, word of mouth, an increasing input from large media companies (thanks to our action!), our community is experiencing a huge cultural shift in prioritizing informative action, debate and compassionate conversation. Let's build that up.
Images c/o Madison Schill
Image of Madison Schill & Grace Mahary, by Jeffrey Chan