GOODBYE 2017, HELLO 2018

It's time to say farewell to another year. Another year of anxiety, stress, grief, political corruption, natural disasters, world suffering, devastating shocks and drama but not before taking a moment to reflect on all 2017 has taught us and brought us.
An awful year? Yes, maybe. But, with the bad, comes the good... the ying and the yang, and *most* of the bad things that happened this year can be flipped on their heads and transformed into wonderful life lessons.

2017 taught us the importance of using our voices. It taught us that we all have one and, no matter how small our platforms may be, by working together and speaking out, we can make a difference. We may not see results immediately, or for a very long time, in fact. But, if we refuse to be silenced and show tenacity, what we want and the justice we deserve will be served. The power of the human voice was demonstrated more than ever in 2017 and, time and time again, it was proved to us that silence is not an option and staying silent isn't cool anymore. If anything, it makes you the most uncool person on Earth. It wasn't cute or trendy to stay silent this year. What was trendy was to get educated and speak out  which, to me, is a pretty awesome trend. We were constantly seeing change in the world thanks to the anger of those who inhabit it at the state of society.

2017 taught us that anger is good and there is no shame in feeling strongly about things. If you're passionate about an issue, screaming it from the rooftops is brave and it is right. You should never bury your anger because burying our anger, in many cases, has led to the state of the world we now live in. So, we must take those seeds of anger and allow them to flourish. We must be unapologetically angry if we want to create a better future. Being angry shows that we care and it also encourages others to wake up and get angry too.

2017 taught us that we only get one life and that life is precious. We learn that that precious life could be snatched away from us at any possible moment in a way which we could never prepare for so, it is vital we make the most of our time. We never truly know what's around the corner and even the best moments of your life could turn to tragedy in seconds. We learnt to appreciate our loved ones and to appreciate ourselves because our time on Earth is limited.

2017 taught us the importance and value of togetherness. It demonstrated to us in powerful ways what happens when humanity unites and actually believes in the beauty of humanity itself. We saw that power comes in numbers and, underneath our exteriors, we are all just human beings trying to get through life. We learnt to look beneath the surface of people and to see them as our equals as we fought with and for them.

2017 taught us the power of the woman, no matter who she may be. Whether she is cis or trans, a woman of colour or Caucasian, fat or thin, young or old, heterosexual or LGBTQ+. We, not only saw, but felt the magic of the female population and the life stories of women who were brave enough to share them ignited a fire within everyone, a fire of fight and hope. Women from all industries and all walks of life, from the rich to the poor, from the famous to the unknown, they shaped 2017 to work around them and they continued to scream even when others attempted to silence them.

2017 taught us the power of technology. It continued to blow our minds just as we thought everything had been done. It frequently had us questioning the power of the intelligent minds which control what we consume. It frightened us, at times, at the sheer magnitude of technology as we realised the possibilities really are endless.

2017 taught us the beauty of our natural surroundings and how important it is for us to protect them. It taught us how special our planet is and how blessed we are to wake up to such a beautiful, irreplaceable gift from Mother Nature each day. We were in awe of the discoveries we made as we were left wondering, how is this Earth free? How is she all natural? What did we do to deserve such a fruitful life?

2017 taught us the importance of talking. We talked, we talked and we talked some more. Not all talk was good, some of it was ugly, but all of it allowed us to connect with others, both strangers and neighbours. It allowed us to share things which would otherwise destroy us if we were to keep them bottled up, it allowed us to debate and gain a greater understanding of other people's views and it allowed us to solve problems. The importance of talking was amplified to encourage everyone to talk. To talk about their emotions, their thoughts and their experiences.

2017 taught us that not everything needs an explanation and, sometimes, the sheer beauty of a situation is that there isn't and needn't be an explanation. We learnt that, sometimes, things do just happen. Some amazing, some horrific. But, sometimes, just accepting them for what they are without getting bogged down trying to find a reason is the best thing to do. Sometimes, the explanation is buried, sometimes buried deep in the future and, if we do not know it now, perhaps life is saving it to gift to us at a later date.

2017 taught us to prioritise ourselves. As important as it is to work as one, it is also important to remember that you are just as much a part of this world as anyone else. 2017 showed us how necessary it is to take time for oneself and that we cannot protect others unless we are safe and healthy ourselves.

2017 taught us that art, in all forms, no matter how big or how small, really is everything. It provides us with an escape, a purpose, a love for the little things. We are so fortunate to have a world bursting with wonderful creators and that we can marvel at their talents whenever we like. This year, art kept the world functioning as everything else seemed to be breaking apart or slowing down.

But, above everything, the most important thing I think 2017 taught us is how strong we are. Because, in spite of everything, the obstacles, the challenges and the tough times, we survived... YOU survived. You made it to the end of yet another year of your life and that is one of the greatest acts of courage and strength I have ever witnessed. Each day, I got to bare witness to those around me getting through. I got to witness them being warriors, fighting on through life and just doing their damn best. It has been inspiring, seeing people not giving up. Even when they aren't aware that they haven't given up. To survive another 12 months when the world has put so much pressure on your shoulders, thrown hardships at you constantly and really pushed you to the limits as a person, making you question your worth, that is remarkable.

You may think that you have wasted your year. Oh, well, that's it, just another year over, onto the next, but you shouldn't see it that way. You did so many wonderful things this year, you achieved, you succeeded, you conquered, even just by getting out of bed in the morning. Just by making it this far, you have proven that you did NOT waste your year. You laughed, you cried, you smiled, you saw the sun and felt the rain but, most importantly, you are still here. Despite everything, you stayed. That is something to be proud of. Any year in which you were alive could never have been a waste.

Now it is time to take all the lessons 2017 taught us and use them as tools to smash 2018. Each thing that happened to us this year shaped us as people and helped us grow. It all made us tougher, more resilient and more capable of overcoming life's hurdles. We must take the hurt, the pain and the suffering of 2017 and use it as fuel, fuel for our passion for the changes we want to see in the world.

So, let us make 2018 the year of change. Let it be the year of a great shift in how things run. Let's make the world better.

Let's make 2018 the year of self love and acceptance, not self loathing and self hatred. Let us fall in love with ourselves and cherish all that we are, because who we are puts light into the world. Let's take more time for ourselves this year to work on our mental and physical health as well as our emotional well-being. We should really work to take care of ourselves and do things that make us happy. The self-deprecating jokes should cease and it needs to be cool to love yourself. Feeling confident and happy with who you are is not a crime, it should not be frowned upon. Let's all do our best to love ourselves and help others to love themselves.

Let's make 2018 the year of self discovery, the year in which we truly go on a journey with ourselves to find, or even create, who we are. We are under no obligation to be anything. We needn't fit into any box or conform to society's expectations. We make the rules for our own lives and we should never feel guilty for living by them. We must accept that others may have different rules, but we don't need to follow theirs. This is our life and we deserve for it to be a full one. Take the time to figure out what you want and make it happen. Don't wait around. You are worthy of being at peace with yourself and being in a truly good place.

In 2018, make it your mission to set yourself free. Set yourself free of the shackles that have been tying you down for so long. If you want to move to another continent, do it. If you want to come out as gay, do it. If you want to start a new job, do it. If you want to have plastic surgery, do it. If you want to change your name, do it. If you want to start a family, do it. Stop worrying about what you're supposed to do and just do what you want to do. Surround yourself with good people and find a place which makes you feel at home. Live life as the most authentic version of yourself and stop denying yourself of what you deserve.

May 2018 be the year of acceptance for everyone and the year free of judgement and prejudice. Let's allow people to live their lives as they choose and not punish them for it. Just because someones choices don't fit with our own, doesn't make them subservient. Do not concern yourself so much with what others are doing because they are doing those things for their own happiness. Do not shame them for how they live, especially because, sometimes, they have to make certain choices in order to just survive.
Let us continue to stand up for what is right but not make minority groups be defined by the fact that they are a minority group. Integrate them into society as you would anyone else. Look past what's on the outside, their skin colour, their religious clothing, their disability, their size, their gender, their sexual orientation, their nationality.. accept people as people and encourage others to do the same. Speak to people, learn their stories, make an unlikely friend. 2018 should be the year of equality for everyone because no one is worthy of less.

In 2018, let's get educated. Let's not be afraid to ask questions. Let's make more of an effort to explore our world. Let's remember that we do not know everything. Let's do all that we can to be better as people.

In 2018, let's use the activism and work from 2017 to motivate us. Let's continue the march and invite other people to join in. Let's get even angrier about issues, let's shout even louder about what is right, let's do so without apologising or letting outside forces make us question if we are doing the correct thing. Do not allow yourself to be silenced. Instead, use the hatred of those who wish to silence you to inspire you to carry on resisting. Whether they are world leaders and politicians or members of your own family, don't let them confuse you. Trust your gut, follow your heart and remember that you are doing the right thing and it will have a positive impact. We owe it to all who died fighting for a better world for future generations, both in 2017 and the years before. We owe it to them to continue telling their stories.
I pray that our world will begin to heal in 2018 but, more than that, I trust the people in it to help it heal. I have faith in my fellow humans that they will grab 2018 with both hands and take control.

Truly, 2018 can be whatever you want it to be. It's a new year and a new start for everyone. We are all welcome in 2018. It is bursting with exciting opportunities and life lessons. It has so much in store for us and we can do whatever we want with the time it shall bring. We can make mistakes, we can try again, we can do great things, terrible things, crazy things, 2018 is ours to shape and turn into the best year of our lives.

Everyone is by your side, now. Have faith that things are going to get better because I promise that they will be okay. Take it all in one breath at a time and have a little self belief that you are going to spectacular things in 2018. You can ask for help, and an army of support will be readily available, but also do not doubt your own strength and abilities. Trust me, if you can survive 2017, you can make it through anything .

I am excited for the new year. I'm excited for its curve balls and it's challenges, as well as its out of this world, one off moments. I'm excited to see what it brings for us all and to push myself out of my comfort zone, something which I challenge all of you to do too. We will only get one 2018 so we should do things as big and boldly as possible or we may as well not bother doing them at all. I look forward to making new memories, meeting new people, seeing new sights and stopping to take a few photos along the way this year. I look forward to the unexpected and the random, the insane and the hilarious. I look forward to saying goodbye to 2017 me and hello to 2018 me.

So, I guess the only thing left to say is... HAPPY NEW YEAR. HAPPY 2018. May it be wonderful in so many ways for you. 

Shine brightly, love loudly.

Emily :) xx

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