It was the year the Tories won a landslide general election, my home country of Sri Lanka suffered an extreme terror attack, and a man faked a hate crime that prompted Trump's followers to call anyone who talked about incitement to racial hatred, liars - so, why did I love 2019?
What I've learned, is that guilt, can be channelled into positivity. Into making things happen. Into change.
With everything thats happened over the course of this year, I've felt a huge amount of anxiety. For our political situation, for the way our country seems more divided than ever, for the number of people I've witnessed suffering, when I know things can and should be so much better for them. Its fair to say, this year, has been one of the most anxious of my life. I find myself prostrate with grief, when school holidays arrive along with appeals for local food banks, for parents who struggle to feed their children without free school meals, at a time when many of us are planning how much suncream to pack. I feel guilty. All the time. For how lucky I am, not only to have a roof over my head, but people that care about me; family, friends, a support network. Why do I have all of these things, when other people don't?
Sometimes, it isn't about the world. Its the small changes we can make to improve our little corners, to brighten the dark spaces, a little at a time.
Make Your Corner A Little Brighter
Life doesn't make sense sometimes, and it certainly isn't fair. But what I've learned, is that guilt, can be channelled into positivity. Into making things happen. Into change. This year amidst of all of this anxiety, I found clarity. Firstly, quite simply, that I suffer from anxiety, that there are certain tools I need to have, in order to face life and do a better job of living it. And secondly, I can make a difference. Because even when the world feels so frighteningly right wing, you want to lock yourself in a room and lose the key - sometimes, it isn't about the world, its about what's right there, on your doorstep. The small changes we can make to improve our little corners, to brighten the dark spaces, a little at a time.
Change Is A Good Thing
So, I made some changes. I started writing more - not this blog, which I have been beyond woeful at writing with any level of consistency, but fiction. Books. My books. Everyday, or as many days in a week as I can find the time, I write my stories. And they soothe me. And I want them to go somewhere, so I'm going on that journey - which 2019, in all its epic insanity, gave me. I saw people, too many people living on the streets of Finsbury Park, so I started volunteering at Crisis. I missed singing, so I joined a band (possibly the unhippest one on the planet, but a band nonetheless, and one I love being part of). I started feeling anxious about the environment, so as a family we made small, deliberate changes to try and improve our carbon footprint. My point is, this year, I made myself DO SOMETHING about the things that were causing me anxiety. And that feeling of being proactive, of at least trying to deal with some of these issues, insulated me against some really hard, difficult things happening in the world.
Fundamentally, most people, are good and decent - even if their views actually don't, reflect your own.
Different, Different, Same
Even as I sit here writing this, MPs have debated and rejected child refugee protection rights in the Brexit bill, which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit. Even typing this, I feel sick to my stomach. Maybe because that child refugee could have been me, or any one of the people I know. Maybe because it feels like we're moving away from being the nation I thought we were. But again, I choose to think about marching for a second referendum in the autumn. The million people that came from all over the country to march and be heard. Whose views and values, reflect my own. Because sometimes, when you feel utterly alone, when politics has elected an MP who said disabled people should be paid less, because they are effectively WORTH less, then you have to remember, that you're not alone. That someone out there, is as outraged as you are. That people are complex, complicated creatures, with any number of reasons for voting one way or another - but that fundamentally, most people, are good and decent - even if their views actually don't, reflect your own.
2019 has brought me closer to my dream of being a published author. Its taught me I can write. Really write. Its taught me that there's far more good in me than bad. Its taught me that I need to work harder to make the world a place I feel proud of. Its taught me that there are forces at play we need to fight, but we can do so with lightness and love. I'm trying not to get pulled into the hard and harsh realities of the things I can't change, and focus on the things I can. And even though I feel guilty, that I have the luxury of being able to choose, what I do and don't have to deal with (unlike those living through it) - I know, that we'll look back on 2019 as a turning point. Which way it turns, is up to us. But for me - I'm looking up. Or at the very least, something closer to centre left.