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    A Case Against New Year’s Resolutions

    20th January, 2023

    It’s January again. Just like every other year. We are once again pummelled by the pressure to reinvent ourselves. New year, new you! Be different! Be exciting! Start fresh! All the trends in January, whether that’s Veganuary or Dry January, say the same thing: maybe this year you can be perfect. Maybe this year, the unrealistic expectations you have set yourself every single January will actually work out. You’re growing, you’re improving. Don’t eat chocolate, delete Tiktok, save money, wake up at 5am every day and meditate.

    Honestly, it’s really not for me.

    I have always struggled to stop myself from making the most ridiculous new year’s resolutions. As someone who always lived a life dictated by impulse decisions, I jumped at every chance to clear out the old and welcome in the new, the shiny, the interesting. I was so eager to discard the mess that the previous year had been. This led to the unrealistic expectation that I would be the “perfect” version of myself in this ‘new year new me’ fantasy. By February I would be left deflated and disappointed, laughing sadly at my naivety. In 2016, for example, I swore I would master the art of parkour. And I tackled this challenge probably in the opposite way to an actual athlete: I did loads and loads of research without actually doing anything. I wrote down a meticulous list, a step-by-step guide to teach me how to learn parkour, and I wrote pages and pages about my plan in a journal. I really thought it would work. But step one always left me blank, staring at the page: ‘get really fit’. I did not like this step. I never did it. My dream crumbled. 

    I don’t really know why, at 13 years old, I thought parkour would be a great addition to my life. But what I do know is that I felt that pressure to reinvent myself, to be better just because a new year had arrived. The years that followed came with more unrealistic resolutions, and it was only very recently that I turned around, had a look at myself, and thought, this is sort of stupid. Why aim for perfection?  Isn’t it better to mobilise the lessons and memories of the previous year? To live life as one continuous journey? I am grateful for all I learned in 2022. Why should I have to start fresh when I’ve just about worked things out? 

    In 2022, I held onto what helped me grow, the things that steadied me in times of stress, even when they may have seemed mundane and boring. Sunday breakfasts huddled in the tiny kitchen, 6 o’clock dinners where we complain about our tutes, trips to the Waterstones cafe. I enjoy seeing the stamps on my loyalty card add up as I buy yet another massive hot chocolate. I enjoy feeling like I’ve committed to something, like my life is progressing, and I can see that in the crumpled little stamp card in my hands. One fun fact about me is I have a really long Duolingo streak, 1186 days and counting! Although that could present me as slightly tragic, I want to emphasise the point that sometimes holding on to things that really nourish you is better than scrapping everything in favour of a ‘new you.’  I think there is so much peace to be found in small, familiar routines that ground us. 

    I have begun to find comfort in familiar songs, as if they were old, soft, worn clothes. I smile each time I wear them and remember all that I associate with them. Memories latch onto them and deepen each track with a new colour as I live through something new. There is beauty in new things. There is beauty in witnessing your own growth. But growth doesn’t always come with big sudden changes and bold sweeping claims about how we will change ourselves. Sometimes, growth is just about putting on your favourite song and admiring how different you are to when you first heard it. Sometimes it’s about wearing a new jumper with the same old necklace you always wear, and enjoying this charming matrimony of novel and familiar. Sometimes it’s about meeting an old friend in a new coffee shop. For me, keeping the same precious little routines helps me face all the new and terrifying things that inevitably come with the passing of time. I don’t need to reinvent myself to face these things. New year, same old me. And that’s enough. 

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