On 9th November Donald Trump won the American election. A few months before the UK voted to leave the European Union. Like many people my age, these were the first times in my life that a political vote genuinely scared me. And to have them happen so close together… to see things we thought were solid visibly crumbling before us can be terrifying. Along with the death of many beloved celebrities, it seems that ‘Screw 2016’ has become the dominant narrative.
But this year has also been a hell for me personally. In January with boundless optimism I wrote my new years resolutions on this blog. I was filled with so much energy and positivity for this year and I had no idea what 2016 was going to throw at me.
Monumental immigration stress. My younger brother suffering a very scary and unexplained health problem. Then in May 2016 I went to the doctor with what I thought was a simple problem. The medicine didn’t work. Then it didn’t work again. Before I knew it my life became dominated with hospital corridors, learning 5 different Japanese words for pain, doctors who were baffled at best and dismissive and borderline creepy at worst.
I have tried my hardest to believe in and get treated in Japan and I do have respect for many of the healthcare professionals here but I have decided to cut my losses and return to the UK for three weeks next week to receive treatment.
It goes without saying that, as a British citizen not to mention being white, cis, etc., I am steeped in privilege on a global scale. That being said, I think it’s fair to say I have not lived a life of ease. I’ve dealt with things many young people haven’t had to face. But, by god, before this year, I didn’t know what suffering meant. Being in pain every single day, waking up with it every single night and knowing that maybe it will never get any better. Not feeling safe in my own body. Watching helplessly as my future, which I always presumed would be bright despite setbacks I faced, fade into doubt and darkness.
2016 has broken my heart and taught me how to love more fiercely and deeply than ever before. 2016 has ruined my health and saved my life.
In 2016 I am finally, finally stopping caring about what people think of me. I don’t have to worry about how well I fit into some fuckboy’s mould of a ‘cool girl’ because I am too fucking broken and burnt out for that to even be possible anymore. And if suffering teaches you anything, I have learnt compassion.
And do you know what? I actually did do most of my new years resolutions.
2016 has taught me that, even when life throws a tonne of shit at you, there are still beautiful moments and you can achieve good things. In 2016 I wandered through breathtakingly beautiful fields of flowers. I hiked across mountains and saw forests and waterfalls with my friends and family. I made some amazing friends from around the world. I performed with one of my all time favorite bands Die Milch as well as in my metal band’s first gig and we’ve recorded some music I am really proud of that I can’t wait to show you. I released a solo 4 track EP and I played my harp on Japanese TV. I have a day job I like and I’m good at, and thankfully they are flexible and gracious enough that I can continue working even though I’m sick.
Sometimes, chronic pain wins and I can’t do anything but cry on the floor. That’s ok. But I will keep fighting for the sake of the good days. For the sake of all I can still achieve and experience. For the chance that the doctors in London will be able to help me more than the doctors in Japan.
And because 2017 pretty much has to be better than 2016 at this point.