Beating ourselves up with unrealistic expectations is a practice that should be relegated to the past, Sophie White is aiming low this year
Hooray 2017 is nearly over! January is a time to take stock, to reflect on the year that was and to look to the future. It’s traditionally a time for a bit of self-improvement, loathsome as that may be. Last year, most unfortunately I was very vocal about my intention for the coming year and even went so far as to commit them to paper. This was a mistake. In detailing my aspirations for self-improvement in writing, I unwittingly preserved my resolutions for my husband to throw back in my face in the harsh light of a Winter dawn a few days ago.
“According to this list..." he came into the room carrying the piece of paper. Where had he been hoarding THAT all this time? "Last year, your resolution was to be more mature. You were going to learn how to operate the washing machine and make more calls to the tax office. How's that been working out for you?” Himself said.
To give context, at this moment he had just walked in on me hoovering the kitchen counters. He thinks this kind of solution is symptomatic of a wider problem of mine, namely that I am not a real, proper adult. I maintain this is a practical use of this appliance.
“I did learn to use the washing machine,” I protested. “I know!” he retorted swiftly. “You proudly announce it every time you put a wash on. Not everyone feels the urge to tell everyone they know every time they do the laundry because, for them, it's not a novelty — usually, it's just a given.”
As he continued quoting me back to me, I realised my biggest mistake last year was not writing my resolutions down but making them too ambitious.
What I learned during the course of 2017 was that the washing machine is not as mysterious as I once believed – though I'm not sure I'll ever get the hang of which compartment of the drawer the soap should go in, why do they even have two, why? I have learned that putting a wash on is not the difficult part, the annoying bit is hanging it all up. According to my husband, I still haven't cracked this bit of the process. Apparently, there's something with his jeans that I’m neglecting, which then causes them to dry unevenly. Uneven drying? Would ya be well?
I did spend a LOT more time on hold to various institutions attendant to adulthood, the insurance company, the tax office, the customer services of the wifi company. I conquered the frustration factor with an ingenious scheme. Dial the number, follow the instructions until you are put on hold, then put the phone on speaker while getting on with your day. I like to do gross body-maintenance tasks, such as underarm shaving or eyebrow-plucking, as a kind of private revenge during the on-hold period. When someone finally picks up your call, ask if they could hold, and then hum Greensleeves until they hang up. It's not productive, but it is satisfying.
The taking stock aspect of the end of year period can be really demoralising especially if the previous year has been a sh*tshow, as mine has been. A friend offered some great advice a few weeks ago. She advised ditch the self-flagellation over what has not been accomplished and instead adopt that icky 'sell yourself' persona we all try to use when applying for a new job. Look back on the year and pick out all the things that happened or things you did that were not sh*t. It is actually a really good way of weeding out some positives and perhaps feeling ever so slightly better about the year that was. In may case after analysing the ups and shifting my attention away from the downs, I'm willing to concede that perhaps 2017 was only a mild sh*tshow.
For this year's resolutions, I'm keeping it simple, really simple. It's the only way to not feel like a complete failure when another year passes in which I've achieved nothing more ambitious than finally crack the best way to pack the Aldi shop (this is something of an achievement though, the stress of packing the Aldi shop is virtually unrivalled in this world, all those eyes on you, no one to help, the cashier simply stopping looking bored every time the counter becomes backed up because you're too slow with the packing, it's intense).
My New Year's resolution this year is to have more fun. I find, we all get so bogged down in work and worry and obligations, we forget about fun for long stretches at a time. Fresh from the magic of Christmas, I kept lamenting that we don't retain this sense of appreciation for fun throughout the year.
'We're here for a good time, not a long time' will be my mantra for 2018. I will still be working hard but I'm going to remember to play just as hard.
Happy New Year everyone.