Though slightly delayed in writing, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the new year. Prior to it arriving, I began to explore how I wanted to address 2016 and the implications of the change in date. I find that most people, myself included, head in one of two directions when it comes to the holiday. There are those who thrive on resolutions – the type who post on all social media outlets about the goals in mind that will come into play once January 1st hits – and then there are those who find the emphasis on the date a pointless and harmful marketing technique to get individuals to find their flaws and invest in unnecessary purchases that will be forgotten within the first month of the new year.
For most of my childhood, I was of the first group. I loved staying up until the ball dropped, decked out in every New Years accessory that could be found, giving kisses to any nearby party-goer. As I grew up, I was similarly excited and motivated by the idea of transforming for the new year. I set goals and, like most who set them, let them go over time, later only distantly remembering the images I had conjured up when picturing a new me on the last New Years Eve.
However, over the last quarter or so of my life, I have more aptly subscribed to the second group. In my attempts to be a self-loving, self-accepting, body-positive feminist, I have read more articles and listened to more speeches supporting the concept that New Years resolutions are a scam. I’ve heard numerous anecdotes revealing individual downfalls resulting from unreasonable goals set on the holiday, pressured by society. And, I have seen my own let-down when each January rolled around and I would come to the realization that the person I thought for sure I’d be by that time the year prior, I was not.
This year, having been on both sides, I knew the pros and cons of each. I knew that succumbing to societal expectations to push myself to be the best new me possible would inevitably cause me to pick apart the person I am now. In order to set goals, I would have to look for places needing change, and potentially feel insecure about parts of myself I have worked hard to accept. On the other hand, rejecting New Years resolutions can be an equally negative experience. Finding faults in the world I live in and acting radically in opposition can foster an unnecessary sense of resentment and hatred that only I will ultimately sense, feel, and embody, which is quite the opposite of how I try to live.
With this in mind, I thought thoroughly about which I would choose and decided to choose neither. Finding a middle ground is something towards which I constantly strive, as is finding positivity. Although both choosing to celebrate NYE with resolutions or rejecting the experience entirely can have downfalls, there are pros in each, as well. It’s natural to take time to reflect when any holiday happens, as human beings naturally look for comparison to make sense of the world, and no matter how hard it can be to see progress and change on a day-to-day basis, it’s inevitable that a year makes a difference and offers wisdom through time and experience. Simultaneously, protecting oneself from using the new year as an easy opportunity to find personal flaws and unnecessary dissatisfaction is important and there’s no need to create problems where they do not exist.
As a result, over the past couple of weeks I’ve decided to use this time of year as a chance to reflect and recuperate before returning to school and the busy-ness of life. Upon reflecting, I’ve found a lot of pride. I’ve changed a great deal in 2015 and I have overcome a lot of obstacles I didn’t even realize were problems at the start of last year. I recognized that a significant portion of my transformation was due to my work in grounding myself in intention and living more mindfully. Taking every opportunity to connect my now with what I want for myself and how I want to behave on this planet has helped exceedingly in getting through tough times, as well as in more fully enjoying the positive experiences my life has to offer. At the same time, in my reflections I naturally came across places of error within the past year, and realized that many of these stemmed from moments or decisions where I strayed from my practice with connecting to a larger picture.
For 2016, I hope to remember how these choices have served me and use the information and wisdom I have gathered over the past year, as well as all that I have learned over my lifetime, to promote my continued growth. I want to remember my overarching goal of happiness – in my present and in my future – and do my best to achieve that. In life, I have found solace in knowing that there is nothing more pressing than happiness and that I have absolutely no obligations but to do my best and truly chase shiny things. In some eyes, that may seem over-simplified or whimsical, but for me, it’s my greatest truth. In moments of stress or anxiety, I want to question and evaluate if what I’m doing is serving me. If the answer is no, I hope to have the courage and strength to make different decisions and not let fear keep me from changing direction. I want to trust. I want to continue to check in with myself and my actions and learn from my mistakes. I hope to be happy and accept my moments of unhappiness. I do not resolve to change who I am or dramatically shift through resolutions. Instead, I only would like to connect more to my consistent intentions. For 2016, I hope to grow into myself more, learn more about myself, and open myself to all that I can be. But, no pressure.