Today is my birthday, and it won’t be my happiest one.
Last night I was awake until 1am, crying into the warm shoulder of my best friend and the love of my life. I’d taken that same old bait my intrusive thoughts like to lay for me, and descended down that black hole of despair so many of us are familiar with.
It starts off like a breadcrumb trail, those old tapes on repeat:
Winning used to mean everything to me.
I was brought up in a household where if I wasn’t the best in my class, I wasn’t anything. I went to school with kids who would literally tear one another’s faces off over a football score.
I live in a country that was so big on ‘winning’ that it enslaved half the world.
The creative industry I work in is reminiscent of Game of Thrones for all the backstabbing, politics, sycophants and uneasy alliances it’s filled with. From all of that I take this very important lesson:
Winning is overrated, and isn’t half as important or beneficial as you think.
We’re not even a month into 2017, and it’s already established itself as the year of huge, sweeping events. People in their thousands are waging war against the things that wound, disgust and enrage them. They’re speaking out. Their feet are coming down. They’re taking no more.
Sadness fell heavy upon me while reading Tobias Stone’s 2016 article on how history will shed light on what comes after Trump and Brexit. Stone is deeply intimate with human history, and spoke of how we “have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self-imposed to some extent or another”.
There’s no denying that history is riddled with echoes. Some may ask why we even try to rise above our innate hostility, especially if we’re destined to fall prey to it every half-century.
On the bus home, I came across another article. One that melted my dejection like dawn upon the frost.
Celeste Ng, author of EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, broke my heart with her 20 small acts of resistance list on Teen Vogue. It’s part survival kit, part love letter to anyone who knows we must do better despite history’s insistence that it’s beyond us. It’s for anyone who knows we can rise above the playbook of years past, and work alchemy through our outrage into something that truly transforms lives.
It’s for anyone who knows that all great stories start with a #smallact.