It’s a phrase we hear every year, whether sincerely or mockingly, and there’s no escaping the pressure that comes with the imminent approach of a fresh start as the clock ticks closer to midnight on New Year’s Eve. The expectation that we should want to be different, that we should grab the chance of an annual do-over with both hands, and do so gratefully.
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with self improvement, or learning new skills, the rigidity with which we can impose this idea can be overwhelming. The sense that we are wasting an opportunity to be better, that it’s wrong to be happy how and where we are, that not setting goals and not meeting them is a personal failure.
This will be my year. We repeat it, an affirmation, a determination to control all that the year will bring. But do we leave ourselves enough wiggle room, and do we do it with our own best interests at heart? Or do we build it around the expectation of what we think we should be aiming for, or what kind of person we think we should be?
In 2018, I made one simple resolution: to be brave. What I love most about this is that it wasn’t a way to change me or who I am, but a way to change the way I navigated the world, and how I acted in it. It wasn’t built on the idea that I was lacking in some way and needed to fix it, it was just a promise to myself to not let fear hold me back.
So often we wrap ourselves up in the ideas of how we should be better, what we should be doing and what we should be like; this is felt particularly strongly at New Year’s. The promise that we can leave everything behind in the year gone by like shedding skin as we step into a fresh life, shiny and new. It’s an exciting idea, but not one that’s centered in reality or our mental well-being.
The truth is when that clock strikes midnight and the year changes you will still be the same person. There are no pumpkins turning into carriages or rags turning into ball gowns; you will still be you, and that’s okay. It’s more than okay, because you are not less than, you don’t need an upgrade, you are beautiful as you are. We all have struggles and flaws and that’s what makes the world so varied, and the number at the end of a year doesn’t change your place in it, or how deserving you are to exist here.
If you are making a resolution this year, keep it centered on what’s best for you and your life, not what you think the “perfect” version of you is. Please don’t set yourself unrealistic targets or goals you can’t possibly meet, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to keep it past February. Keep them sustainable, make them with your best interest at heart, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people; if your goal is simply to make it through the year, that’s just as valid as someone who wants to write their second book, or win awards or make millions.
Remember your value, this year and every year that comes.
Wishing you an amazing 2019.