We have no expectations of you. You’re just welcome.

I’m tired. Aren’t you?

I don’t think I know anyone who isn’t limping towards Christmas battling colds, Covid, too many commitments, awful fatigue or just a general sense of not being able to hold it together. If you aren’t, well done to you, you are forever my hero, and I applaud your stamina and your immune system.

Promoting anything at the moment is weird. I’ll admit to having entirely failed at trying to enthuse businesses to participate in The January Challenge this year, something I tasked myself with in September. It felt hard to say, “Why not add something else to your plate in 2022 and try to whip up some team enthusiasm,” but also because I felt like I was struggling, and it’s hard to enthuse others when you’d rather be in bed. 

But as my amazing team has ploughed on creating the most incredible month of magic, and I’ve heard all the brilliant schools, colleges, youth groups, care homes, councils, organisations and individuals that are excited to get started, I’ve remembered why I always love it so much. And why, for the 9th year running, I’ll spend January taking on a little creative challenge each day, sometimes (mainly) in the 2 mins before a Zoom meeting starts, or just before bed because I forgot, or with not much energy. Still, I’ll do it because I know from experience how much it helps. 

So I am not writing this to persuade you to do it. Because no one needs to tell what’s good for them at the moment, or ever, but I’m just telling you I’ll be doing it. Because every day I feel I don’t want to, it somehow makes me smile; because every day I think it’s too tricky, the 50,000 other people doing it remind me I can try; because on the gloomiest days of the most miserable month, I can be in community, listening to others share a little bit of themselves, and having them see me through the descending fog. 

We tried to rename The January Challenge long ago because who needs a challenge in January? But we never really managed to find anything that stuck as well. So maybe we need to think about it because January is often a challenge anyway. And we’ll be here, facing it together with a little bit of joy, fun, and creativity along the way. We’re here to make the challenge less challenging. And to provide space for a community of thousands of people to help each other do the same. 

So we’re here if you need us. Every day in January, do a gentle little creative activity for 5 or 10 minutes. You don’t have to do it every day, you don’t have to do it any day. But I’d like you to know we’re here. And we’ve got your back if you need a bit of space just to be. Be yourself, be someone else, be somewhere else, be resting, create, and find yourself staring into space.

We have no expectations of you. You’re just welcome.

by Jo Hunter, Founder of 64 Million Artists