It's safe to say we've had better years. Here in the U.K, the British exit from Europe has resulted in a fractured Britain. Those who voted to stay feel as though the decision doesn't truly reflect the wishes of British citizens. Especially as recent reports published by The Guardian reveal Brexit voters are white, male, and readers of the Sun or Daily Express. Even worse is that the majority voted based on their hatred of multiculturalism. The thought that fear and xenophobia is the driving force behind our future is a scary one; depression and anxiety has risen as Brits say they feel uncertain about the future.
Over the pond isn't much better. Like Brexit, Donald Trump won the white working class by an unprecedented margin as Americans voted out of racism and 'patriotism'. Soon the USA will be run by the first person elected president with zero government or military experience. This week, First Lady Michelle Obama was interviewed by Oprah, saying 'Now we're feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary.'
To top it all off our icons have been dying all year. Musical legends David Bowie and Prince died at the start of 2016; not forgetting our home bred entertainers Ronnie Corbett, Caroline Aherne, Victoria Wood and Terry Wogan and Hollywood legends Zsa Zsa Gabor, Carrie Fisher and Gene Wilder; a long list of people who have shaped and influenced our lives in some way. The BBC reported that twice as many notable people died in 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, and five times as many as in 2012.
Whether we realise it or not; global changes like these have an impact on our mental health and well-being. They effect our sense of security and safeness and create fear. An unprecedented number of people called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the early hours of November 9th to express their distress about Trump's election. As human beings, we try to create order so that we feel organised and in control. These feelings contribute to our confidence in ourselves and the world around us. Rest assured, anxiety is a normal reaction to rapid, and particularly unwelcome, change.
On Christmas Day, George Michael, who had sold more than 100 million records worldwide, died at home at the young age of 53 and a nation of fans were left in a state of disbelief. Another well-loved star had died and it happened on the one day of the year when we like to think we are safe.
Still, there's always beauty to be found in the list unlikely of places. Just hours after George Michael's death, Twitter was flooded by people sharing their own testimonies to his generosity. From giving £15,000 to a woman he saw on TV in need of IVF treatment, to a £5,000 tip for a barmaid who had student debt; the star donated royalties from some of his biggest selling singles and made huge donations to Childline, the Terrence Higgins Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.
It reminded me that despite all the things that have changed in my life since my mum died; authenticity and legacy do still mean something. Despite spending two decades battling with the demons (which included the death of his own mum and the unplanned way he was forced to admit his sexuality in the late 90's) that led to his well-publicised issues with drink and drugs, George Michael's legacy is one of kindness.
I believe that despite all the imbalance around us, we need to position ourselves in a steady spot and remember that, as human beings, we have endured and overcome so many things. As tough as it may seem now, we will survive Trump and Brexit too. Yes, our icons passing on hasn't been easy; but remember almost 20-years ago when Princess Diana and Mother Theresa died in the same week? The world was in a state of mourning. Still, with time we were able to focus on the incredible legacy they both left to the world. Princess Diana's own legacy has the power to change the world if her sons continue to carry it forward.
Let's stay focused on the good we can put back into the world, the work we can do to better our families, our streets, our towns and countries. If we can all focus on our unique legacy and work on being the most authentic version of ourselves, I believe that good will always overcome eventually. It's just a matter of patience and faith.
As the Persian saying goes, 'This Too Shall Pass.' So, let's dust our knees off and get back up again for 2017. Often, things are never quite as bad as they seem to be. And, we still have so much more to do.