Here’s a fun fact: we are already three weeks into January.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise because in this post-pandemic world, time has no meaning. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have a bubble around your head that cuts all contact from civilization, 2021 has been….tough. A rollercoaster, some would call it - one of those rides that starts off too slow and ends too soon - but you’re still counting down every second of it. Time’s a funny thing.
So if we could measure the past year, what would we measure it in? The number of Zoom calls you sat through on mute? The texts you sent the same template replies to? The friends you never met? The dates that never materialized? The bottles of liquor you finished at home? The packets of chips you consumed in one sitting? Would I measure the year in the weight I gained (9 kgs) or the dreams that never fully realized (four)?
Every year is a desperate race to level up on its predecessor, and every new year resolution is an attempt to right its multiple wrongs - a euphoric turn-of-the-clock (quite literally) decision to suddenly wipe off our proverbial slates and start afresh. Traveling more and partying less. Thinking more, drinking less. Treating more, eating less. Seeking more, seething less. Running more, running away less. Dreaming more, living less. Multiple proclamations are made, but only a mere 5% of them see the actual light of the day the next morning (or sometimes, a week later) when the
post-alcohol adrenaline serotonin levels have subdued and we realize our scribbled slates were very comfortable to begin with, thank you very much. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Now there will always be people who can pick up a new hobby or undertake a challenge like it’s no big deal. Take my brother-in-law, who can work fifteen hours and sleep for three hours a night and then one day, simply run a 10K race for the fun of it...without fainting.
Most people are not my brother-in-law. If you are miserably out of shape, making a New Year's Resolution to run a marathon by April isn't just hard, it can be disheartening.
This doesn't mean that you should abandon your desire to be healthier, to run a race, to learn to speak Japanese fluently, to cut back on alcohol, or to learn to play the piano. What it means is that you can't approach the end result as an "all or nothing" resolution. You can aim high, but you have to occasionally accept that there are some targets that aren't reachable, need to be modified, or will take more time. There's nothing sillier than wanting to lose ten kgs and giving up by mid-February because you haven't seen enough of a change. Change takes commitment. Change takes perseverance. Change takes time.
Here’s the thing. Resolutions are ‘usually’ sincere — people don't say to themselves ‘I want to take a half-baked stab at being better.’ People DO want to quit smoking. They DO want to get that revenge bod. They DO want to have a house, and get a better paying job, and save for retirement. But you need to know that choosing a single day to start a major life change isn't logical.
It’s not like your diets will change overnight or your manuscripts will magically get written, or that toxic people (and viruses) will have a sudden change of heart. You can’t reboot your life or restore it to factory settings (and don’t even try to put it in a bag of rice overnight) on the 1st of January, because it doesn’t work that way.
If that were the case, this would be the year that I learn to be more assertive about my needs and wants, set healthy boundaries with my friends and loved ones, understand the importance of drinking in moderation at an open bar instead of embracing the alcoholic reputation I’ve earned, exercise as often as I can not to the point of extremism but as an embodiment of body positivity that helps me battle my inherent body dysmorphia, take better care of my crumbling mental health instead of live tweeting my sessions with the therapist, and have the courage to politely tell men that I’m not interested in them even though I send the occasional flirty text a little after 2am that might sometimes ‘lead them on to believe that I’m looking at them as a potential romantic pursuit.’ Knowing myself, I am most likely to fail at each and every one of them.
And that’s okay. Instead we make do with what we have - not starting from square one, but resuming the race right from where we last left it. 2021 was a rollercoaster, yes, but it’s not one I’d ever want to ride again. I’d like to think of the past year as an interlude to 2022, the year that hopefully will be.
And if that doesn’t work out, there’s always 2023.
Or the years after that.