To my dear Reader,
With New Year this weekend I can’t help but think back on 2016 and try to evaluate how it all went. 2015 was a very personally challenging year for me and I was relieved when it was over. But 2016 has been different. Personally I have felt like it has been a good one with lots of growth and adventure but without all the pain that 2015 seemed to think was necessary. Yay 2016! Globally or humanity wise though… I feel like it has been a complete disaster. I don’t know if it’s because I’m reading the news for the first time (because I have so VERY little to do at my job) or if I’m simply at a place where I’m ready to become disillusioned with world or if humanity really did fail… but either way my faith in humanity has been completely shattered. Like I-used-to-believe-that-most-people-were-good-or-at-least-trying-to-do-good-but-now-I-think-that-humans-are-at-base-greedy-self-servers-who-shouldn’t-be-trusted kind of shattered. Which is significant, dear Reader, because I am one of those annoyingly optimistic people who always try to take a Pollyanna spin on things. It takes a LOT to squish my bounciness. But 2016 has found a way. I might not like 2016, but I have to respect it for that *face palm.
But it’s awkward because this means that I have very conflicting feelings about 2016, dear Reader. It has been both good and bad. Which means that I now have to act like an emotionally evolved adult (or child) and find a way to be comfortable with 2016 being good and bad at the same time. Sigh. It would be SO much easier to just think of 2016 as being completely all bad or completely all good…. But alas…
The highlight of 2016 has definitely been Our Brat Experiment. Financially, I know that we have learnt lessons that cannot help but exponentially benefit us going forward. Saving regularly, for example. SO simple. Being intentional about what you buy, another example. Nothing that requires a phenomenal brain or income. In fact, things that ANYONE can do. But these things have an ASTOUNDING, compounding impact on your financial health and life. I just feel so deeply grateful to have learnt these lessons now and I know that for the rest of our lives, even if we can’t save at the rate we have been saving this year, we will always save more than we would have without these lessons. And for that we (and our future children) owe 2016 a lot of gratitude.
However, more than the money stuff, Our Brat Experiment (combined with the IMMENSE amount of free time we have had this year) has shifted something much deeper in us. It’s subtle and difficult to put into words, but there has been an unmistakable, intentional, growing focus to learning about who we are and who we want to be. It kind of feels like we have decluttered ourselves. Not by getting rid of anything but by focusing on what’s really important; and in that process all the other stuff has quietened down or found some peace. I feel like we are only just beginning this part of our journey but I am so energized and excited by it. For example, it’s liberating and thrilling that even though Husband and I have been together for 9 years, I am still learning about who he is because he’s still learning about who he is. And visa versa. It feels like there is such adventure in the journey of just being an individual. And an individual in relationship with other individuals. What a profound, exhilarating privilege. And again, I am deeply grateful to 2016 for being the year where we became aware of this journey – or became more actively focused on it. (And I am also SPEECHLESSLY surprised that the simple act of trying to spend less and save more [i.e. The Brat Experiment] has resulted in this kind of realization!)
2016 has also taught me that I really enjoy teaching. But that I cannot help but be a psychologist (I cannot help but think about where my students and colleagues are in terms of their developmental phases and milestones; I cannot help but try to understand why a student is the clown of the class or refuses to speak; and while I taught the syllabus, I couldn’t help but slant my lessons towards themes related to psychoeducation). So if I am going to teach, I need to teach psychology. But 2016 also confirmed for me that my first love is seeing clients so even if I do start teaching psychology, it must only be part-time.
2016 has taught me what it’s like to be a minority and what being on the receiving end of (usually subtle) racism feels like. In other words, 2016 has taught me about new levels of empathy and putting myself in other people’s shoes. 2016 has taught me how to do nothing and not be (too!) anxious about it. How freeing to not constantly have to be an over-achiever! 2016 has been the year of seeing old friends who are like family and becoming comfortable, and increasingly ready, to start our own family. It also has been the year that I learnt to blog and discovered to my surprise that neither the internet nor I will blow up if I’m not 100% sure about how to do something.
But 2016 has also been the year that I realized that racism, sexism, religious and sexual discrimination (and every other kind of discrimination) still have a looooooooong way to go. A heartbreakingly long way. I suppose you could describe me as “liberal” but I don’t think that it’s “liberal” to want equality and all people to be considered and treated as people. I think that’s just basic human rights. Or simply: not-being-a-dick. And 2016 has taught me that a lot of people are still struggling to not-to-be-a-dick. Actually, I’m fine with the struggling bit. We’re all human and on a journey and prone to dick-moments from time to time but prior to 2016 I thought everyone was striving to notice and learn from their dick-moments so that they could have less dick-moments in the future. 2016 has corrected that. I now think that a lot of people are very comfortable being-a-dick and see no need to notice or correct their dick-moments. I feel very angry that 2016 has made me realise this. But in a very Pollyanna way, I suppose I could be grateful that 2016 pointed this out to me so that I could up my game to do more…
So, dear Reader, I could easily join the Facebook world in cursing the horror that has been 2016. Because it has been horrific. But it has also been wonderful and life-giving and challenging in a fantastical way. And so I suppose that there is nothing left to do but acknowledge that 2016, just like any of us, has had both good and bad bits. And that’s ok.
Have a happy, happy New Year, dear Reader! Thank you for being a part of my 2016 and Our Brat Experiment. I wish you all the love and happiness and growth (financial or personal!) in the New Year.
Love Ms. B
P.S. I have been wondering about my lack of name in this blog… it’s horrible not to know what to call someone. The problem was that I had no idea what name to give myself (given that the blog is anonymous and all). Until I wrote this post. And Ms. B it is 🙂 “Ms” because I refuse to be called “Mrs” until men are equally addressed in terms of whether they are married or not. And “B” for Brat: Ms. Brat. So Mr. and Ms. B it is for now. And hopefully some Bratlets will join us in the future 😉 Xxx