I turned 24 on January 1st. So when I think of the new year, I think of ageing. I am not thinking of rebirth or a second chance. I am pondering over the fact that I am one year away from being in my mid-twenties. Meaning I will no longer be able to rely on the ‘I’m only in my early twenties’ excuse for any major slip-ups that happen in my life.
My mistakes are no longer bound with my youth. Now, they are a haunting court summons into adulthood and one which I can’t babble my way out of. However, the new year always brings with it a sudden need to regroup and rethink and put together a list of goals that will define my path for the year to come.
Then there is the perpetual production line of articles and think pieces that show you how you can change, shouting at you that you can have a “new year, new you.” Basically, telling us that the people we are at this moment in time are not good enough and we fundamentally need to change.
I have tried to change certain aspects of my life in the hope that they would return a newer, more desirable me. One that wasn’t so lackadaisical and short-tempered, shaved her legs more, abstained from bread and drank kombucha straight from the bottle — all because if we change who we are, the world will be dandy.
The more I have thought of my yearly resolution failures, the more I realise I had been looking at it from the wrong angle. The immense pressure I placed on myself to change, meant it was never going to last because, at the end of the day, we can improve and change certain aspects of ourselves all we like, but trying to change the things that make us who we are will break us and not make us.
Wanting to improve and be a better person is a good thing. It shows certain levels of self-awareness and determination that are needed in life. For 2019, I am thinking of my dream year and the goals I want to achieve, whether that is in work or in life. I want to read more, travel more, get organised and work harder, and for once, what I want has nothing to do with a weight loss regimen or altering who I am. I want to stop quitting and begin persevering.
On reflection, I have realised that I do, in fact, need to get my sh*t together in many aspects of my life. Certain elements need to be fine-tuned and some bad habits need to be abolished. These facets can’t be worked on and fixed by deciding on the first week of January that I must instantaneously curb my habits and transform completely the human being I once was.
Slow and steady
And that is the issue here — resolutions are dictated to us in such a way that they must take place with immediate effect. Wording such as “lose weight now” or “make more money now” make us believe that success happens at the drop of a hat. But it doesn’t. True and radical alterations take time and effort and many failures in between.
The psychology behind resolutions makes us feel we aren’t good enough and when those resolutions burn down like a house on fire we are made to feel even worse. And therein lies the rub. We are good enough. We always have been and we always will be. If self-acceptance was pushed instead of drastic reform, and a slow and steady approach was encouraged rather than the fast track to success, our resolution success would be flying at a much higher rate.
Bridget Jones’s Diary taught me an infinite amount of life lessons that I hold dear; big knickers should have been one of the twelve commandments and the nice guy in life might just surprise you. But the most important teaching wasn’t even from Bridget herself, it was from Mark D’Arcy (aka Colin Firth) who told Bridget that he liked her just the way she was, despite her contradictions and nuances. Because she was perfect. We are all perfect. Just the way we are.
And resolutions don’t have any power to tell us otherwise.