Don’t expect me to carpe diem or start journaling or even drink all that much water. January is for hibernating, hot water bottles and copious cups of tea... definitely *not* girlbossing.
Every year, the wave of ‘New Year, New Me’ rhetoric tries to pull me under; pummeling me against the sand to a chorus of “you should be doing more”. But is it just me, or did the rush to get ahead of things start earlier this year? Discarded wrapping paper had hardly been swept up before the productivity brigade was on Instagram extolling the virtues of “using this time wisely”.
Well, I don’t want to. In fact, all I really want to do is pull the curtains closed, get back into bed and binge-watch Emily in Paris (yes, it’s terrible, yes I still can’t look away).
January is the Sunday of the calendar year; a truly terrible month characterised by feelings of guilt, lethargy and an existential dread that’s hard to shake off. Resolutions, seasonal depression, social jet lag – my list of grievances goes on.
Let’s start with the toxic productivity. Do you really need to set hyper-ambitious goals… or do you need to take this time to cut yourself a break? I vote option two. Social media has convinced us that if we’re not almost at burnout, we’re not doing it right, but that mentality serves no one. It seems to me that you’re born, you work and then you die. That might seem harsh and, yes there are little moments of joy that punctuate the time in between, but if you’re constantly replacing achieved goals with new ones to work toward, do you even have a second to enjoy your successes!? In a word, no.
January thrives on shame, you see. This month is all about paying for December’s ‘sins’; last month they bottle-fed us Baileys as we shimmied around the Christmas tree, this month they berate us for indulging… this month, kale salad and punishment is the order of the day.
it’s not boxing day and it’s not stephen’s day
it’s stephenseses day
— c dawg (@mrneeson) December 26, 2019
Fitness influencers start peddling out transformation programmes before the St Stephen’s Day (or should I say, Stephenseses Day) hangovers have even subsided. “Change, change, change,” they chant at us through a screen. We put ourselves under the microscope, examining every supposed flaw with vigour but it’s not long before self-scrutiny bleeds into self-flagellation.
To quote Lena Dunham; “I’m so f*cking sick of trying.” Detailing a recent encounter with a woman at the pharmacy, Dunham vocalised what I’ve long struggled to put into words. “I’m not sick of doing, or being, or any other action verbs. But I’m sick of *trying* – the word that evokes a hamster wheel, running and running only to find yourself still here, still stuck or in pain or in fear. Still just trying.” Change can be good, but it’s not always necessary – especially if you’re only doing it because you feel societally obliged to.
So, what if this January we just… do nothing? We don’t implement rigorous 12-step skincare routines or start training for a marathon or do anything even remotely considered ‘girlbossing’. What if this year we just rest and recuperate and allow ourselves to admit that actually, January really sucks.