Now that Christmas is over, everyone is all focused on the new year. Resolutions. Changes to be made. New opportunities. For the last few days, I’ve been noticing people sharing this one post on Facebook about things to let go before the new year, as though it’s ever so simple to just stop your own force of being in merely a few short days. As though, in just hours, you can undo mindsets that have taken years to cultivate. Sure, it’s a nice thought. I just don’t think it’s realistic.
Maybe I’m just not optimistic enough to talk about or believe that a new year means anything anymore.
Or maybe I’m too old. Or maybe it’s both.
I haven’t felt like celebrating New Year’s for the past few years, so I haven’t. One year I was house sitting, so I watched a movie. When it was over, it was a new day. And it just so happened that it was also a new year. Big deal. I went to sleep. Last year I knitted. There have been no countdowns, no champagne toasts, no Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, no fanfare of any kind for me in a few years. Because what really changes? Things change all the time. For the better. For the worse. Whether you want them to or not. They don’t need a year’s permission to do so.
Most of the time, I really suck at dealing with change. More specifically, I have a lot of trouble adapting to other people’s changes that have some kind of effect on me. This is probably related to my anxiety, but I remember being like this even as a child. After spending years of my life fighting change, I’ve learned that it’s a stronger force than I’ll ever be, and that trying to stop it is roughly the equivalent to using your hands to try and stop a freight train going full speed down a hill.
It doesn’t stop me from trying, though.
Embracing change, on the other hand, is often refreshing — even for someone like me. Although I should give myself a little more credit. While I struggle with a lot of changes, the really big ones — deciding not to teach anymore, making a full career change, moving from PA to VA and back to PA and then to Philly — are ones that I typically welcome (even if they’re tough adjustments for a while and I spend some time second guessing myself… I think that’s probably normal). There were a lot of changes for me in 2013, and the majority of them have been good ones. So I understand why people get excited about dropping their bad habits, making resolutions, and making a fresh start.
My problem is with the timing, I guess. There’s no reset button at midnight. And when we wake up Wednesday morning, while we might have really good intentions, it’s ultimately not wildly different from Tuesday. If you’re going to make changes, why wait until the new year? Why not just start now? Why not start two months ago when you thought it was time for change?
I started thinking about all of this again the other day when I saw that a restaurant down the street from me is holding an “I Hate NYE” party. I use the term “party” pretty loosely — they’re holding regular hours. At midnight they’ll have some drink specials. Other than that… regular menus, regular pricing… show up if you want, or don’t. Aside from the acknowledgement of the New Year at midnight, it sounds perfect for me. Except I either plan to be playing board games or sitting on my couch, knitting and watching Lost (again… I’m re-watching the series).
In the past few years, the idea of counting down to midnight and sipping champagne when the ball drops has given me a lot of weird anxiety. I feel like if I participate in any kind of celebration, I’m going to hyperventilate. Maybe I’ve just become a curmudgeon in that respect. I recognize that I’m being a party pooper here. I don’t begrudge anyone their well-fought right to party. If you want to drink yourself stupid and throw up all over the place, go right ahead.
But at least call a spade a spade.
Because it’s really not about the new year, is it?
The new year is an excuse. It’s an excuse to drink yourself stupid and throw up everywhere. Or to eat all of that terrible food you’ll be giving up the next day on your way to a “new you.” It’s an excuse to effect all of those changes you kept meaning to make. It’s an excuse to let something get the best of you. It’s like the Mardi Gras of December.
And by February, things will have largely settled in and returned to how they are now. Because change doesn’t turn on a dime. It happens when it wants to happen. Or when it needs to happen. Or when you’re actually ready… which might be in January, but it might also be in April or June or October. Change doesn’t have a calendar.
Because, like Bono said, nothing changes on New Year’s Day.
For your listening enjoyment:
My current favorite: