New Year, Old Problems

About a week ago I was doing some preparatory New Years shopping with my sister. As we wandered through the aisles we continued an argument that had been going on for the last four weeks. My sister had planned an elaborate New Years Eve overnight in the city with just under a dozen of her friends, and she desperately wanted me to come along. I, however, was "fence-sitting".

Here's the thing about New Years: every single year it's the same story. It's supposed to be some party-to-end-all-parties; a spectacular fun-tastic experience that will change your life. People plan for weeks, shell out obscene amounts of money, and then.... meh. Every single New Years I've ever had has been nothing more extraordinary than mediocre. There's too much hype surrounding it, so it's a guaranteed disappointment. Not to mention fun cannot be forced. The nights I'll always remember were spontaneous and genuine. So, this year I wasn't feeling the effort. Rather than waste my energy and (recently exhausted) funds I figured I would just pretend it was like any other night and veg out on the couch.

As I was explaining this for the millionth time to my sister, several other reasons occurred to me for why I had no desire to go out. These mostly consisted of how I feel overweight, lethargic, and ghostly pale. Which led me to ask: why on Earth do we still celebrate New Years in January??? Besides it being midwinter and deathly cold, it also happens to be when the majority of the populace is feeling just as I am: fat and pasty. We've all been overeating ourselves into pseudo-hibernation since Thanksgiving, and most of us have Seasonal Affective Disorder from seeing so little sunlight. As much as I'd love to believe that "pale is the new black" (the racist overtones of which I only just recognized) I mostly just don't.

Imagine, for a moment, New Years Eve in August. The night could be spent outdoors in the glorious warmth of summer nights. Having spent the last several months on beaches, in parks, and on mountains everyone would have a healthy summer glow and would be feeling fit and trim. Rather than having to make frustrating and pointless resolutions to frequent the gym and eat better, everyone would already be feeling pretty good and therefore could come up with some more original (and fun!) resolutions that we might actually keep.

Despite a total lack of enthusiasm to go out, I wound up attending since it clearly meant a lot to my sister. It was definitely one of the better New Years, though it had its fair share of shenanigans. I'm sorry to disappoint you all but those will not be included on here. After all, I'd like to maintain some small semblance of professionalism.

Most years I don't make resolutions. They've never worked out too well for me, and they often seem pointless. In that sense this year was just like the others. But tonight I had cause to reconsider.

I had lain in bed for a good two hours trying to sleep without success (totally my fault for ODing on sugar and doing nothing all day). On a whim I started rifling through some of my old journals that happened to be close at hand. Sometimes I like to read them like novels, from start to finish, but tonight I just flipped through, pausing here and there. What I read gave me pause, and I started to consider the last few years. I suppose you could call them tumultuous. My old writing called to my attention some things I think I've swept under the rug, so to speak.

Rather than rewrite all of my teenage angst, I'll get to the point. A couple of weeks (months?) ago I stumbled across this cartoon about depression. At first it caught my attention because it was hilarious, but after reading I also had an uncomfortable awareness that my own thought processes are sometimes alarmingly similar to what the author called "narrating my thoughts and actions with a constant stream of abuse." Since first seeing the cartoon it has stayed with me, causing me to notice whenever I start thinking in these patterns.

Now I'm happy to say I'm not depressed (pardon the pun), but closely identifying with a severely depressed person is kind of a red flag. So, I finally reach my point: this year's resolution is to change the way I think about myself. I have concluded that most of the things troubling me right now will be ameliorated if I can get myself to a happy, confident place. While I have no more than my usual faith in New Years resolutions (that is to say very little) I am going to make an effort to write nice things about myself every day. Instead of wallowing in my shortcomings I am going to celebrate my achievements; instead of dissecting my imperfections I will be grateful for my many blessings. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of having terrible self-esteem.

Hopefully this will inspire one or two of you to do the same: I think we could all use a little more love.

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