A rundown of all the things that can improve you and the year ahead
It’s New Year and it feels only like yesterday I wrote “How to Deal with 2016”. Back then, naive little flower that I was, I offered you rather quaint advice like looking after your mental health, cutting back on booze and avoiding arguments online. Well friends I’m here to tell you I followed precisely fuck all of my own advice. Barely a week after I typed out my thoughtful musings on facing the future with a renewed sense of calm, Bowie died and I got drunk. In the resulting chaos and decline into backwards nationalism and right wing rhetoric we saw in 2016, I continued to drink – occasionally looking up from the bottle to do important things like telling the Dalai Lama to "fuck off" on Twitter. In truth, 2016 was the year I discovered new worlds, ones in which I could go harder and lower than ever before. But 2016 continued to outfox me; insisting I could be drunker – so drunker I was. By November, I passed out before Trump’s victory was announced and stayed as such right up until a nervous breakdown and subsequent intervention which led me to a recovery programme. True story.
So – you’re probably thinking – if this ex-wino didn’t even follow her own advice last year why the hell should I read her advice for 2017? Well, dickhead, you probably shouldn’t but didn’t you hear? We’re in the era of "fake news". About 90 per cent of what you’re reading online is total bollocks anyway, so you might as well read something by a transsexual on a cocktail of estrogen and prescribed mood elevators – it’s bollocks, sure, but at least it’s not fascist bollocks. I may not be competent for the task at hand but hey-ho neither is the next President. Who needs to be qualified for anything these days?
MAKE SURE YOUR FRIENDS ARE OKAY
Christmas and New Year are a vulnerable time for many people when past trauma, family drama and the sense that your life is in stasis can take hold. January is a depressing month and often one where people are setting themselves overwhelming goals to switch things up or improve their lives. Let’s face it, you’re unlikely to change much in a month where your bank balance is still ravaged by the parties and presents of Christmas and there’s about 25 minutes of natural daylight each day. In a few weeks Donald Trump will be sworn in as the Leader of the "Free" World and I’m not sure resolving to cut down on chocolate or is going to make any of us feel much better.
What you can do, however, is look out for those in your immediate circle and check they’re also doing ok. The act of caring for others is itself transformative.
Sometimes cries for help come in strange guises and require translation. For example "Guys I’m thinking of starting a crafts afternoon where we all meet up every Saturday and do crafts!" can roughly be translated as "I’ve missed two days of work because of the gak and things are falling apart, lads". That’s right, your friend Sarah doesn’t actually care about basket-weaving – she’s just lonely and anxious. Go on, have a heart - go and sit with her in a dingy community centre and make a fucking basket. If it’s really terrible the drug dealer will still be there next week.
STOP SAYING "LEG DAY"
We get it, you joined a gym. I don’t really know what "leg day" means – except a day where you caption what appears to be a glazed ham "leg day" with a bunch of other inscrutable fitness hashtags. I know you say these are for the other losers you met at crossfit to admire your "progress". Good one. We all know the real purpose of men’s fitness hashtags is to build up an online following of 17-year-old gay boys living in Leicester who post the aubergine emoji 15 times under every selfie and make you forget what a disappointment you are to your dad. It’s 2017 either keep your gym enthusiasm to yourself or commit and do actual porn. Just get the hell off my newsfeed.
DO ONE POLITICAL THING YOU HAVEN’T DONE BEFORE
I’m convinced that the only way to counteract the depressing tide of the global far right and feel useful on an individual level is to get out and do something, even something small, to support those most vulnerable – that is people of colour (especially migrants and refugees), queer people (especially trans people) and women. Look at refugee support services in your area – they may need time and volunteering or money/fundraising. Look at demos and protests. Last year Black Lives Matter, the Standing Rock protestors, Sisters Uncut, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and the Shut Down Yarlswood protests were all movements which highlighted realities and issues I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
To be honest, I used to avoid activist groups and volunteer work because I was worried I didn’t have time to do everything but then a friend told me "you don’t have to do everything; just do one thing – it’s all good stuff and you can’t do it all, so pick the thing you can do most easily". You might be good at refreshments for meetings, you might be good at painting banners for protests, you might have a good telephone manner for volunteer reception work, you might be good at getting media coverage through your social networks. I like "just do one thing" – the label ’activist’ has always seemed a bit right-on and grand for me, doing one thing seems manageable. Even if you can’t manage that there’s always cold hard cash - every activist group also says "if you don’t have time, give money" so you can always outsource your noble politics to people who know what they’re doing, too.
HANDJOBS AREN’T A REAL SEX ACT YOU JUST THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE HORMONALLY A TEENAGE GIRL
Sorry – this advice is just for myself. I’m a trans girl in my first year on hormones and I needed this advice.
ASKING PEOPLE "ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED?" WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A WANKER
Every time something dreadful happened in 2016 we heard from this prick – a middle aged media commentator, always white, usually male. Always unmoved by something as trifiling as "current affairs" he exists in an ivory tower of insouciance and disdain. While marginalised people express worry, concern or fear at what is coming every time one of our moronic overlords announces new gloom he is there to sneer "sorry, but is anyone really surprised?". Well done, champ. That's right – anxiety is irrational and a waste of useful time. You are a good robot, your software analysing calmly all things at all times and we would do well to reboot our core processors at this time.
MAKE A LIST OF EVERYTHING GOOD THAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST YEAR SO YOU CAN KEEP IT UP IN 2017
Social media kept somewhat of a self-perpetuating myth about 2016 being a cursed year going. Sadly Brexit is actually going to be triggered this year and Trump is actually going to come to power this year and the refugee crisis will continue to devastate and destroy lives. It’s hard to anticipate this and not continue the idea that 2017 is somehow cursed too. So break that mentality – what was good for you – personally (for me: listening to Beyoncé), politically (for me: Formation by Beyoncé), in art (for me: Beyonce’s Lemonade) or music (for me: Beyoncé generally) last year? Why was it good and how can you build on that positivity with those things this year? Entire years aren’t really cursed and good things happen a heartbeat away from terrible things – its important to latch on to the former and see them as opportunities to be built upon.