I’m currently on a bus to DC to visit my lovely sister for the new year and finally have a second to sit down and think! Before getting to Herald Square and crawling over 4 feet of snow outside my front door, I grabbed a sandwich for the long journey ahead. When the friendly (almost suspiciously friendly) cashier handed me my order, he looked me directly in the eyes and said, “You’re going to have a good year. Enjoy your new year!” I was hardly expecting to get a side of good fortune with my avocado sandwich, but I didn’t complain. I smiled and nodded as I rushed into the subway.
What is it about January 1st that makes people make promises to themselves and those close to them? Is it merely an excuse for a new beginning, life, friends or aspirations?
I would imagine that if I were take a poll of what the New Year meant to most people, it would go something like this:
“It’s a time to reflect.” (AKA “Look at your life. Look at your choices.”)
“GET DRUNK. WEAR SPARKLES.”
And the one we’re all too familiar with:
“Get a gym membership and stop eating burritos.”
In the whirlwind that has been the year of 2010, I’m finding it difficult to reflect and process everything that has happened. I feel like trying to sort through events, people, and memories of this year is like trying to get to the bottom of a jar packed to the brim with sand.
I’ve grown and learned more than any other year in my life. This time last year I was sitting in my dirty college apartment, laying out my new year’s dress. There was no reflection or speculation involved… I was so incredibly wrapped up in my bubble and generally so happy that the farthest I had thought about the New Year was no where beyond how I was going to get home from a party at 3 AM on January 1st, 2010.
I can honestly say that I am not as happy as I was this time past year-- “happy” meaning “blissfully oblivious” of course. I’ve written a lot about how difficult changing my lifestyle has been… I have a wonderful job and place to life, but the process is nowhere complete. However, I’m not sad or regretful about this (you thought this was a suicide note until now, didn’t you? Maybe not… how many suicide notes have the word “burrito” and “sparkles” in it?). In fact, it’s pretty incredible. I feel so fortunate to begin 2011 with a necessity to make my life happen. When I packed up my car literally two weeks after graduation and threw myself into the middle of a new life, I had no idea what was going to happen. Beginning a new year when everything around you is so comfortable and happy makes it all the more difficult to make a change and keep promises. I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity in disguise.
Therefore, “hopeful” is a good word to sum up the end of 2010 and the start of 2011. I generally try to stay away from the phrase “New Year’s resolution” because, from what I can tell anyway, it tends to be associated with disappointment and expectations that are a bit ridiculous (again, I will never stop eating burritos as long as Chipotle is in business). To bring about change and improvement takes time. In order to train and condition yourself, you have to be ready for a few bumps along the way. Don’t give up at the first sign of resistance! In short, don’t let a change in the date change what you want and deserve. If you’re happy with your life, then keep it that way—who cares that you sign your checks to Chipotle 2011 instead of 2010? (Okay, I’m done with the burrito jokes… but, as a side note, you might want to look at your life and look at your choices if you’re writing checks to Chipotle, just saying.) The significance of your decisions is not dictated by the significance of the date.
If you’re not completely satisfied like me, face the New Year with a new mindset. Don’t feel pressured to make specific goals (although you can). This isn’t a senior thesis. There's no deadline. This is your life and who the hell cares if it takes past 2011 or even 2030 to finally feel at peace and accomplished?
So as I sit on this bus and pensively gaze out the window (this would be more dramatic and artistic if I were writing in a journal and not balancing a laptop on my knees while inhaling my sandwich but whatever… You work with what you got), I really feel excited and maybe a little terrified about continuing the new chapter in my life. The funny thing is, I probably won’t even notice when it’s over and I’ve started a new one!
I hope everyone enjoys whatever you’re planning to do tonight whether you’re going to a party, going to Time Square (I’ll pray for you), or just staying home (good for you—another ridiculous expectation of NYE is to have fun at midnight which I have discovered only happens maybe 30% of the time… in my experience, most people blackout or have fallen asleep by the time the ball drops).
In the words of middle school teachers who think they’re being funny, “See you next year!”