You are awesome, and 2022 is going to be an awesome year!

[Image description: A tan, white, and grey cat sleeping peacefully under a white blanket, their eyes closed in contentment. Image by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash]

Hi everyone. Welcome to 2022! I know the heaviness of this week presses down on us like a weighed blanket filled with mayonnaise and glass shards (This is my first post in a while; the analogies may be a little rough). The holiday break, if you had one, was not long enough, and a lot of it was probably spent arguing with family members and standing in line waiting for covid tests. Those sweet few days of lying snuggled up on the couch watching Ted Lasso or the Wheel of Time or our favorite cheesy movies seem but a distant memory, like the brief romantic flings of our youth, when we too were radiant with joy and Doritos.

Now we have to get back to dealing with emails. So many emails. And to-do lists. Endless. And relentless meetings. Meanwhile, we are still in a worsening pandemic. And the CDC, sponsored by Delta Airlines, basically says that if you have covid, gargle with some warm salt water and get back to capitalism. We’re going to have to put on a brave face and refrain from answering “What are your new year’s resolutions?” with “to make it to March without strangling at least three people in this virtual meeting.”

If you feel like crap, you are not alone. If you look like crap, you’re also not alone; seriously, I am so grateful for Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature. If you want to just take a nap or scream or cry or some combination of that, everyone will understand. If you decide to quit your job, leave your hometown, open a chocolate shop in a charming but religiously rigid small French town, and fall in love with a river pirate, you do that, because self-care is important. This week is rough. Life has been rough.

But guess what, we made it past 2021! And for that, we should celebrate. 2022 is a new year! To put it into perspective, this is the last year any of us will ever see a year with three of the same numbers. The next time would be 2111, and we will all be long dead, or else our minds will have been transferred into robotic bodies, and we’ll be living on Mars, ruled by the hologram of Elon Musk.

2021 did a number on us. We started off so hopeful, and ended up bruised and beaten down. It’s hard to trust a new year again. But 2022 will be amazing! According to some light googling I did, the number 2 symbolizes harmony and balance. So this year will be all about that. Our sector will find balance between action and intellectualizing. We will flip some tables over! We will lift up the voices of those who haven’t been heard! We will piss off more of the right people!

We are also going to get more rest. We will set realistic expectations and be OK not meeting some of them. We will take ourselves less seriously and find joy and humor in our work, because, as bell hooks said, “We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor.” We will spend more time on our creative hobbies, hanging out with people we love, and doing other things we enjoy. Some of us will take regular showers and use deodorant again. I see all of that and more for us in 2022.

2022 will be awesome because our field is awesome. In the dumpster fire that was last year, we still did incredible things. Our sector has always been creative and resourceful even during the Before Times, but the last couple of years, we have done some of our best work amidst some of the greatest challenges.

And our field is awesome because it’s made up of sexy, brilliant ass-kickers like you. Hardworking people who continue to fight for a better world. Brilliant, talented people who ram their shoulders daily against the arc, bending it toward justice. Caring people whose existence makes the world kinder and more peaceful. Attractive, good-looking folks. That’s you. Did I also mention charismatic, stylish, and yet profoundly modest?

Today, you may feel and look like a poked bear and dread doing anything productive. Some of you are probably reading this from your toasty bed and wishing you could stay there. Take a deep breath. Take it slow. Give yourself time to adjust. Cry if you need to. Our work, as meaningful as it is, is not easy, and sometimes, on days like today, there’s no shame in admitting you don’t really want to do it, that you would rather switch houses with someone abroad for two weeks so that you can live in their quaint English cottage and fall in love with their sibling.  

But also make a little bit of space to kindle some hope, some optimism, some excitement for the days and months to come. For many of us, every day from now until mid-June brings more and more sunlight. The temperature will warm up; the crocuses and cherry blossoms will bloom; the morel mushrooms will appear. And even though we fear it will, the pandemic will not last forever. We will be able to see one another again.

Until then, try to remember that your actions, no matter how seemingly minor, create ripples wider than you may ever see or know. Yes, you may be one person, but never underestimate your impact, especially when you work in unison with others in our wonderful, imperfect sector. As the great Betty White once said:

“Snow always inspires such awe in me. Just consider one tiny snowflake alone, so delicate, so fragile, so ethereal. And yet, let a billion of them come together through the majestic force of nature, they can screw up a whole city.”

Happy New Year! It’s going to be a good one!