My Only New Years' Resolution for 2015
The first new years’ resolution I can remember giving myself was pretty by-the-books. I was eight, and I read about new years’ resolutions in an issue of “Girls’ Life” magazine. I was immediately intrigued: having a new years’ resolution sounded very long-game to me, which was right up my alley. (I am a big fan of anything that requires commitment over skill. I have always considered myself very tortoise-like in competitions: you think I’m not a threat because where even am I? I’m like 30 miles behind you! You might as well take a leisurely nap, you idiot. BUT THEN SUDDENLY LOOK WHO IS WINNING THE RACE AND ACCEPTING ACCOLADES WHILE YOU ARE NAPPING, BITCHES.) My first-ever resolution was to eat less cookies. It went fine. I was never a huge cookie-eater to begin with. I had wanted to choose something achievable, and I achieved it.
After that, I was hooked on new years’ resolutions. By the time I was in my 20s, I had started planning my new years’ resolutions (yes, resolutions plural) in late October. A few years ago I started publishing a comprehensive list of my resolutions online. Here’s the list from last year. In 2014, I wanted to stop calling myself crazy (I stopped doing that out loud, so I guess that was sort of a success); eat breakfast (I look back at this and wonder if there was ever a time I didn’t eat breakfast. I can’t remember being a breakfast-skipper at any point in my entire life. I think maybe I just wanted OTHER people to eat breakfast WITH me?); say hi to people in the grocery store (sure, let’s say I accomplished that); stop gossiping (oops); and do a pull-up (WHO WAS I KIDDING WITH THIS PULL-UP GOAL!? THIS WAS A STUPID GOAL. SHAME ON ME).
There is something very satisfying about acknowledging one’s faults and making some commitment to changing. America in particular is obsessed with goal-setting and goal-tracking — being a teacher for the greater part of a decade has elucidated that much for me beyond a doubt. We are just as good at forgetting our goals, or making excuses about them, or changing them quietly as soon as they seem unrealistic. The goal-setting, after all, is the easy part. Everyone knows what’s wrong. Whether individual, societal, institutional, or emotional; anyone reading this sentence could stop at the end of it and make a list of hundreds of things that are wrong with the way things are. If you are somehow an exception to the rule, you’re an infant baby, and congratulations on being able to read at such a young age.
Personally, this business of naming everything terrible is one of my favorite activities. For example: I’m too fat; I care too much about how fat I am; I eat too much shitty food; I’m too precious about what I put in my body. Also: I’m clingy; I’m flaky; I don’t make my friends realize how much I love them; I think too lovingly about my ex-boyfriends. Furthermore: the education system is broken; I am not participating enough in fixing the education system; I am egomaniacal for thinking that I COULD do anything to fix the education system; I basically AM the problem just by going to work every day and participating in the education system. And of course, I’m crazy for even MAKING lists like this; and selfish; and don’t I notice how much I just used the word “I” in this paragraph? Oops. I didn’t mean to say that I’m crazy. (See: New Years’ Resolutions, 2014.) I meant to say that I’m a bad person. Everyone’s a bad person. People are inherently bad, but especially me.
Now, ordinarily, I would take this occasion of “the new year” to carefully comb over this list, select the most egregious imperfections, and manicure them into upbeat, achievable, action-oriented solutions. But it’s the end of 2014, and the thing is, I feel tired.
I feel tired of adding new rules and regulations to my life to make it better. I feel tired of believing that my life as it is is somehow not good enough. There isn’t space in my life right now for any new new years’ resolutions. So this year I have just one: not to have any.
Look. I know I am not the first genius to decide not to have a new years’ resolution. I have balked at those people in the past, accusing them of being curmudgeonly and shunning tradition. Why wouldn’t a person take the opportunity to improve herself? I have historically not-so-quietly judged the non-resolution-havers. In hindsight, that should have been my first tip-off that the enjoyment I took from setting new year goals for myself wasn't entirely healthy. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that whenever I find myself judging other people -- even if it’s just in my own private musings -- I’m probably not taking care of myself very well.
So if you decide to make a resolution this year, more power to you. You do you. But also ask yourself: what would it mean to love your life just as it is? What if, on the days where you spend six hours watching “Wonder Years” reruns and eating nachos because you’re in a crummy mood, you don’t beat yourself up for it, but say instead, “Hey, everyone has days like this sometimes?” What if, rather than trying to fix everything all time, you tried to forgive yourself for just being exactly as you are? And then maybe you might even be delighted by that person.
Also, I know that resolving to not have a resolution — particularly after I’ve basically just said that I’m addicted to new years’ resolutions — is in and of itself a resolution, and therefore paradoxically breaks its own rule. Whatever. In the immortal words of Rust Cohle from “True Detective,” “Human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution.” There’s really nothing I can do about that.