• Céline Peterson

Find The Happy.

Around this time each year, I usually put together some photos of my favourite moments from the year and write about them as I look back. Not this year. This year there is very little I want to look back on because when I do, I see disappointment, frustration, anger, helplessness, loss of work, sadness, sickness, injustice, and so much more. Yes, I can see the moments that don’t fall under those categories and there are some moments this year that have put a smile on my face and given me a reprive from the madness where I could take a deep breath, or even where I can feel proud of an accomplishment. But that is all momentary because of what this year has really felt like, at least for me. For me, it’s been hard to find the happy.

The disappointment that I experienced this year was not just from those I don’t know. For so many of us, our disappointment, confusion, and heartbreak was closer than we ever imagined it would be. We’re disappointed in our friends, our family members. Things won’t be the same. How can they be? When you discover that someone you respect has been part of the problem in attempting (and failing) to contain the global spread of this virus, which basically means that someone you respect has shown that they have no respect for other human beings living on this planet…that’s jarring. It’s a lot to swallow. For me, I’ve had a particularly hard time with resigning to the fact that people I used to hold close - whether friends or family - are refusing to acknowledge their own prejudice, racism, privilege, or otherwise. That has been hard. It was actually easier for me to call undecided voters ahead of the election than it has been for me to even attempt conversations with people I’ve known for years. The difference? The undecided voters (for the most part) were willing to have a conversation with me and treated me like a human being. I was not always shown this courtesy by friends or family members.

We have all had dark moments both this year and throughout our lives. But this year tested me in ways I was not prepared to be tested. For me personally, I’ve had moments where I crossed a line I never wanted to cross. That whole “When they go low, we go high” thing was a tough one to follow for me. I’ve had a hard time not wishing for individuals that I consider to be evil to just no longer exist. I’ve had a hard time showing empathy to people who need it because all I can see is the damage they’re doing. Compassion? Another hard one for me this year. I’ve just been mad. I’ve also had moments of distraction, but really I spent a lot of time being mad and completely depleted of the energy to look for empathy and compassion when it was so much easier to just scream and cry about how truly awful human beings can be.

So, it’s a new year. Is it a happy one? Not from where I’m sitting. I can’t find the happy just yet because I can’t just leave this year behind me. If I did, I’d be ignoring the fact that half of the voters in the United States voted against my right to exist in my own skin without being subject to prejudice. Half the voters in the United States voted against science. They voted against logic and they voted against equality for all human beings. Fine. He lost. Multiple times. But that doesn’t mean that this just goes away. This means that we all have more work to do now than we did before. This is just getting started. Am I leaving behind the devastation of the pandemic? Nope. Hospitals are full. People are continuing to die. Businesses are still closing. My industry is completely shut down. People are being evicted. We can’t leave any of that behind because it's all still happening. Happy new year? Not so much. But a new year. A chance to do better. A chance to speak up. A chance to stand up.

As I have always said, I am a lucky woman. I am surrounded by wonderful human beings whom I love with all my heart. They are what have gotten me through this year. There are so many who do not have support and need it much more than I do, so I hope that we can all take some time to make sure that we reach outside our circles and offer love and support to others. We might not know what they’re going through and we don’t have to. We just know they need it, so show it. Show patience, kindness, compassion, empathy, friendship and love. Do better than I did this last year. Find the happy.



Suggested read:

2020 In Review: A Year of Triumph and Tragedy for Black Lives Matter (WBGH)

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One year later. As I write this, I find myself sitting in the exact same spot that I was last year on this day, staring out the open window with the cold breeze coming through. The difference? Last ye