- Make breakfast. How good is breakfast? All the good foods are relevant at breakfast: pancakes, waffles, steamed green things, scrambled whatever-you-want, caramelized onions, assorted breads in assorted baskets, coffee, orange juice, all the fruits -- I could go on and on. It's like at the beginning of time someone was like, "Man, mornings really suck. I have an idea! Let's have a designated time where we eat ALL THE GOOD FOODS in the morning, and then we won't think being alive is the worst thing possible." That person was a really smart person. Breakfast makes life seem a lot less dire. And yet, alas. Busy, busy Modern-Day Man is always SKIPPING breakfast! Or throwing a Pop Tart in her backpack and running out the door. Or going to Burger King to order a Diet Coke at 7 a.m. One day, Modern-Day Man will be old and dying, and she will look back at her life and wonder why she didn't eat more breakfast. There are so few complete and total pleasures in life. Breakfast is one of them. It is also really good for you: there are scads of articles on the health benefits of breakfast. So this year I will go to bed a little earlier so I can wake up a little earlier so I can make more breakfast. I'll try not to Instagram it too often.
- Say "hi" in the grocery store. You know when you're at the grocery store, just grabbing a can of tomatoes and some almond milk, and you see someone who you know just a little bit, but not enough to consider yourself friends with? Like, maybe it's a co-worker and you don't know his name, or maybe it's a neighbor you pass by on walks, or maybe it's someone who is a tertiary part of your ex-boyfriend's friend group. So you see this person, and you are not sure if you should say "hi." You decide you'll let them say "hi" first. You decide to look really interested in instant oatmeal so you don't have to make eye contact with this person. Then the person doesn't say "hi" either, and you leave the grocery store not having said "hi," and the next time you see the person on the street, it will be even WEIRDER if you say "hi," so you just never say "hi" to the person, EVER. I think that in general, it is nice to be smiled at, and it's nice to have someone say "hi" to you, even if you are super introverted and you enjoy doing your grocery shopping in utter solitude. My roommates are really good at stopping to chat with whomever is out and about. They have abundantly generous spirits, and they don't mind taking the time to find out what is going on in the lives of their neighbors and acquaintances. They are EXTREMELY giving with their time. I, on the other hand, feel consistently rushed, and want to get things done quickly, and avoid conversation with perfectly nice people at all costs. It's amazing the lengths we will go to in order to be left alone. But a little kindness can go a long way (Thanks, 3rd Grade Social Skills Class!), and our world needs more community engagement, not less. This year I am going to slow down, suck it up, and say "hi" in the grocery story. And if that leads to a conversation, I am going to be present and open, and allow the conversation to take the time it is going to take. My tomatoes and almond milk can wait.
- Only say things behind other peoples' backs I want said other people to (at some point) hear. I have often made it my New Years' Resolution to stop saying mean things behind peoples' backs. After I became a teacher and learned about the importance of positive framing, I made it my New Years' Resolution several years in a row to say more NICE things behind peoples' backs. Both of those resolutions were pretty good, but I always ran into this dilemma: what about when I was really upset or hurt about something that someone in my life did, and I needed to talk to a friend about it before I lost my mind? Was that considered gossiping? Sometimes I wasn't saying nice things; did that make them mean? So here's what I think the grown-up version of this resolution looks like: it's OK -- even healthy -- to talk about other people when they are not in the room. That's an important way that people work through complicated human relationships. However, the intent should always be to ultimately improve those relationships; so whatever is said behind closed doors should be polished into something that has the potential to be brought out into the open. This year, I will think carefully about what I am about to say about an absent party, and make sure that I am saying it because I need to talk about it, and not because I think it will earn me gossip-points and make me look cool. (I realize that this sounds like something that only tweens and shut-ins do, but it's amazing the lengths that so-called adults will go to in order to impress their friends. I have heard a grown woman compliment her friend's outfit to her face, and turn around and, like a scene out of a cheap Mean Girls remake, eviscerate the very same outfit the second the friend was out of earshot.) Likewise, I will respect some information as private, and try not to bait people into telling me other peoples' secrets (as good as I might be at it). I want to be a nice person. The world could use more of those.
- Stop calling myself "crazy." Every few weeks or so, something happens and I start to feel SAD. Maybe a piece of writing I submitted somewhere gets rejected, or I spend too much time in a school day raising my voice at children. The trigger is ordinarily small, but the effect is usually that I climb into bed, order a whole pizza to eat alone, and tell everyone who makes the mistake of trying to talk to me that I am "being crazy." I blame a lot in my life on "being crazy." For example: I blame my penchant for spending Friday nights at home in bed watching "Adventure Time" alone on being crazy; I blame the uncontrollable sobbing I do after watching too many Christmas-themed commercials on being crazy; I blame all my botched relationships and friendships-gone-awry on being crazy. A few months ago, after telling a good friend that I was "being crazy" for the umpteenth time, he told me he wished I wouldn't say that. He went on to say, "I think it's a kind of self-abuse that is culturally acceptable and can be quite harmful." I was taken aback. What was this? This person didn't find my loud and garish self-loathing to be adorable? How was this POSSIBLE? But then I gave it some thought, and realized my friend was right. All people have bad days sometimes and crawl into bed with a pint of ice cream, dead to the world. And no sane person can make it through life without losing their temper around a person they love, or having an emotional outburst or two. Those things don't make you crazy -- they make you human. By consistently calling myself crazy, I'm suggesting that there's somehow something wrong with sometimes feeling sad, or having irrational reactions every once in a while. This year, I'm going to listen to my friend, and give myself permission to be exactly the person I am: a totally average, twenty-something, almost-grown-up.
- Do a pull-up. There is a version of myself that thinks, "Sophie, your body is like a weird, lead-filled pear. Your upper self will never left your lower self over a bar. Please just go eat a calzone. That is something you can handle." To that version of myself, I say, "Fuck you. I'm just as capable of being strong as anyone else with all their joints and access to a Cross Fit gym."
Psst -- Here are last year's resolutions. I didn't do too badly!