So this post is a little late, since we’re four days into 2018 already. Nevertheless, I want to hit on a few thoughts on the new year, resolutions, and the entourage of diet messages we all are bombarded with right around this time.
I’m a student, so I’m stuck in the school calendar. When January first rolls around, it feels like much less of a change or turning point than when the last week in August begins, or whenever I start classes in the fall. Still, the beginning of the calendar year feels like something to commemorate, hence my intentions above.
If I had written the very same words three years ago, they would have a very different feel. Each one would be followed with an implied “or else.” Drink more water. Or else. Practice piano and violin most days. Or else. Write down one thing you’re thankful for every day. Or else.
Resolutions have been getting a bad rap lately, probably because the stereotypical New Year’s resolution is short-lived, superficial. Of course, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with setting goals or resolutions. The intent behind them is the real thing to pay attention to. Do you set goals out of fear of what will happen if you don’t? Write up your resolutions out of guilt? Or you do make them because they’re things you genuinely believe will impact your life positively? Will working on your goals/resolutions/intentions add stress to or detract stress from your life?
Fear, guilt, and shame–they aren’t good or sustainable motivators. But with all of the fear, guilt, and shame inducing messages we receive, especially around this time of year, it’s hard not to react with fear, guilt, or shame.
You see the billboard featuring a photoshopped model sporting million dollar yoga pants, encouraging you to become a more toned version of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with nice yoga pants or exercise, but the unwritten, unspoken “or else” in the message is another matter. New year, new you. Or maybe it’s all the diet talk at work or school. Everyone is on a new diet. Except it’s not a diet. It’s a “lifestyle change” where you don’t eat sugar ever and go to boutique fitness classes seven days a week and drink wheatgrass shots every morning (it’s a diet). You’re the only one not doing it, and it feels lonely. And though you don’t want to join in, you also feel like maybe you should. New year, new you.
Maybe instead of new year, new you, we could say new year, more you. In other words, yes it’s a new year, but you’re still you. And though fear, guilt, and shame won’t make you not you, they won’t make you more you. They stunt your growth. Maybe this year can be a year of letting go of control. Of doing life while actively pursuing peace.
My intentions for the year–they’re small things. And read a certain way, they can seem like strict rules. But when I look at them, instead of feeling burdened by them like I would have a few years ago, I feel grateful that they’re things I can do, things I want to do, things I get to do. Without stress. I’m excited to read a chapter of a non-school book each day and take time to journal and be outside more.
That sums up a few thoughts on the new year and what it means. I’d love to hear what you think about all this. Resolutions or no? Do diet messages seem especially prevalent or strong? What’s something you’re looking forward to this year?
Linking up for Thinking out Loud!