I don’t know what the next four years will bring, so I’m going to stop clinging to one perfect life plan.
Like most of us, I couldn’t wait for 2016 to end. The presidential election cycle was deeply triggering in a way I’ve never experienced before, but I got myself through the latter half of the year by telling myself we were perched on the precipice of progress. I was supposed to end election night stuffing my face with Hillary Clinton cupcakes, but instead I lay awake in bed facing the reality I’d been too terrified to consider during the election: a Donald Trump presidency.
Some people say we should give Trump a chance, but those people must not have been following his cabinet appointments, Twitter meltdowns, or general douchebaggery. From where I sit, there’s nothing but bad that can come from a Trump-led America, and the best case scenario falls somewhere between fascism and concentration camps. Worst case, we nuke ourselves and the world out of existence. Then again, considering that we elected a C-list reality TV “star” to run our country, maybe that isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Dolphins may be into gang rape, but they probably wouldn’t destroy the entire planet.
I’ve always been a fan of making resolutions for the new year. The act of making resolutions itself forces me to confront areas of my life that need work, while also rewarding myself for jobs well done. But how do you make resolutions for a world on the brink of imploding? My financial health and career goals are blips on the radar of our nation’s imminent doom, but while I’m fueled by a desire for activism and subversion, I’ve still got to eat. Figuring out my resolutions for 2017 has led me into uncharted territory like never before. But, for now, we’re still alive and kicking and it’s time to make some resolutions for the impending apocalypse.
Take care of myself first, for real this time
By now, we all know that we need to put on our own oxygen masks first to be of any use to anyone else. I can’t think of any time in my life where that need has been more true for America at large. The coming days and months are going to push all of us to our limits; we will be triggered, marginalized, abused, and harmed. We will suffer and we will need to fight back. None of us can do that unless we prioritize our own health and wellness, and that has to include a real self-care regimen.
Self-care looks different for everyone. For me, it means creating a routine around things like therapy and massages so they happen regularly. It means giving myself permission to be imperfect, and not trying to save the world single-handedly. It also means facing my fears that we’re entering a fascist regime without losing my shit on a daily basis.
Be tougher (but not like them)
Now more than ever, a lot of us on the left are angry and disenfranchised. It would be easy for us to turn to the dark side and to use the bad behavior of Trump and his minions to justify our own bad behavior. Sure, we have the moral high-ground here because we aren’t actually fascists, but that doesn’t make our own hatred any less hateful.
My son told me today that it’s always easier to be mean than kind. Kindness requires empathy and compassion, and both of those traits require self-reflection. Choosing kindness forces us to confront our own role in every situation, and to hold ourselves accountable when we hurt others. At the same time, kindness can also be a cloak of martyrdom that allows us to avoid difficult situations while calling ourselves the good guys.
Don’t get me wrong, the world needs a whole lot more kindness. But it also needs abusers to be stopped, real consequences to be dished out, and boundaries to be respected. Don’t turn the other cheek and pretend you’re doing the right thing; stand your ground, fight for justice, and enforce your boundaries without resorting to dirty tricks and bullying. In a world full of Trumps, be the Michelle Obama.
Fact-check your social media posts already
It happens to the best of us. But an entire presidential election was just swung to a large extent by people sharing fake news on social media (and mother Russia). If I do nothing else this year, I’ll fact-check social media posts for at least 30 seconds before accidentally sharing complete bullshit.
Be the fucking change
I’m a big fan of considering myself a progressive person: I go to protests, I cast the right votes, I give to charity. But if 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that America needs us all to step the fuck up. Not once in awhile, not here and there, but by creating a real spirit of activism that shapes our lives and even how we raise our children.
There is nothing more subversive than helping the most marginalized people become empowered. I’ve challenged myself to find regular ways to volunteer this year in my community, and particularly the most at-risk of harm in Trump’s America. My community is where I know I can help the most, and when things get real we all need to know someone has our backs.
But I’m not going to write about it in-depth, take snap photos to share on Instagram, or otherwise insert myself into the equation. Trump’s narcissism reminds me that there’s the type of help that helps and the type of help that harms. In 2017, I’m going to learn how to do more of the former.
Let go of expectations for the future
I’ve always been a planner. As we head into 2017, the future has never felt less guaranteed, and I definitely don’t feel hopeful anymore about the direction we’re heading. There’s not much to look forward to about fascism and concentration camps, and it’s easy to let that fear and uncertainty suck the joy out of today.
I’m not suggesting anyone fiddles as Rome burns, but maybe there’s a happy medium in there somewhere. I don’t know what the next four years will bring, so I’m going to stop clinging to one perfect life plan. I’ll create backup plans for my backup plans so I’ll know how to adapt and shift gears as need be, and I’ll stop taking things quite so seriously. Does it really matter whether my career is moving at just the right speed if we’re about to be refugees, anyway? I’m not going to give up on my future, or America’s, but I’m going into 2017 with my eyes wide open.
Stop worrying about the size of your ass
Let’s not give in to the diet industry on top of embarking on a Trump presidency, OK? This year, I’m going to put the food I eat and the size of my ass on the backburner and I’m going to stop wasting so much of my life consumed by stupid shit that doesn’t matter. Trump might think I’m fat, but I think he’s the antichrist, so I’ll stick to fat.
There’s no such thing as the right way to survive a dictator. Maybe we won’t survive and the dolphins will finally have their day. But at least those carbs won’t matter quite as much in 2017.