If you spend any time on the internet at all you might’ve seen the above meme being passed around a few times but in different forms. The newest trend is to come up with a clever set of pictures that depicts a bright and shiny start, a “before” if you will, to the year and a second battle-scarred “after” one to show how we look at the end of a long tough year.
Now I love memes. I love memes so much I’ve made it my life’s work to spend hours viewing as many as possible preferably when I have other more important things to do. Memes hold the stitches of my sanity together, to be honest. But this one, in particular, bothers me.
I get it–memes are not meant to be taken seriously. But I think too much and my mind loves to deconstruct, well, everything. So like everything else in my life, I went and gave this too much thought and here’s what I came up with.
I know it’s just for fun, but it bugs me that it enforces the idea that the last year was worse than others. That we barely made it alive. And maybe it’s just me, but I like to end my year with positive thoughts as much as I like to begin one the same way. These memes push forth an idea that the past year was all bad, or that the negatives outweighed the positives and that simply isn’t true because in the end, it’s about how you choose to look at it.
We live in complicated times, I’m not going to deny that. Even my use of the word complicated feels generous. But we are an evolving species, and every time we come to a cross in the road, and we start down a new, unfamiliar path, we’re bound to meet resistance. We’re bound to encounter obstacles on our way that will test our endurance, our patience, and our integrity. There will always be tests that will make us want to quit, turn around and stay in the places we already know are safe. But if we did that, how would we ever grow? How would we ever learn and become better people?
Every time we choose to keep going we win a small battle. I’d rather look back at the year and instead of focusing on the bad I want to focus on the good. That doesn’t mean I’m choosing to live a lie and pretend horrible things didn’t happen. I’ll have to accept that certain things were out of my control or did not go my way and that there’s still much work to be done. But at the end of the day, when December 31st comes around and I’m still standing and breathing, then it was a good year because I’ve survived and I’ve got enough willpower in me to face the new year and whatever obstacles it might bring.
So if you reach the end of the year feeling like you’ve literally walked through hell, it helps to understand and accept that the battle keeps going. But you should also always remember that you’ve made it this far. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to keep going. In Winston Churchhill’s wise words, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” If at the end of the year you feel battered and worn out, think of yourself as a boxing champion who holds his belt over his head. That his eyes are swollen, muscles sore, and is bleeding in places doesn’t matter to him, he reached his goal for that fight.
So let’s start off our year, not naively unaware, but ready for the fight.
Us at the start of 2017:
Us at the end of 2017:
May your 2018 be full of wonderful experiences, positivity and many wins.
(And by all means, let us enjoy our memes and not make too much of them. #MyNewYearsResolutions)