Making the most of fresh starts
Part of me hates celebrating New Years. For the past few years the turning of a year leaves me feeling sick. Generally I’m okay when I wake up every January 1, but in the days prior to it, leading up to the last second of the year, I feel sick. I felt it especially badly this year, perhaps because it was the turning of a decade. I guess what happens is that I start to internalise and analyse what I achieved that year. What did I do well? What am I proud of? But more than that I stress about what I should have done but didn’t. The other day something happened that left me feeling overwhelmingly that I’m not good enough at things that I love to do, which left me feeling incredibly down. The last few days of the year are the worst for my self-confidence. This year I didn’t even watch the fireworks on TV like I normally do. Instead I stood by my window and watched the fireworks that my neighbours were setting off across my neighbourhood. In that moment, I felt the most peace I had in days, because I knew that I could now pick myself back up and carry on trying harder than before; a fresh start (I hate this phrase but we’re using it…)
Like all holidays, the New Year is a social construction, and because of that I can tell myself that it doesn’t mean anything. But that’s not entirely true. Yes, the construct of time and calendars is something that has been created to give us as humans a comprehensible way of viewing reality, yet at the same time, while that seems artificial, it gives us structure. What is it about January 1 that gives me motivation to work so much harder than on the 31 of December? I used to roll my eyes at people at people who made New Year’s resolutions for this very reason, but now I make my own resolutions. Some are small, like finishing the sewing project that I’ve been working on for three years, but one remains the same each year: to live happily.
In theory, with a strong enough will or the right situation, this turning point could be any day. Another fresh start was the day I moved into uni for example. If I really wanted, I could make my own New Year to be in the middle of August, or in February, or any day I wanted. I could wake up one morning with a renewed mindset. It just so happens that society has crafted the general notion that this day is January 1.
My point is, if you feel like you’re in need of a fresh start, or at least a change in the way you go about life, however big or small, the New Year is the perfect opportunity to try something out. If you’re reading this midway through the year and feel a bit stuck, take the desire to change something about your life and put it to good use. As I’m writing this, I have only been back on campus for a couple of hours. As soon as my parents left after dropping me off (and buying me a load of food from Tesco hehe), I headed to the library to write this and start work on the 8,000 words that I have to write over the next two weeks. Yes, I probably should have started that a lot sooner, but it’s my resolution this year to stop putting off things like this.
I would encourage you also to use the momentum of the New Year to achieve your goals, and sustain that motivation for a long time so that at the end of this year, you can be proud of what you’ve achieved.