It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
~ Nina Simone, Feeling Good
I don’t have excessively high hopes from 2018.
I didn’t wake up the morning of January 1st expecting all my problems to have disappeared; and they hadn’t. The unfinished conversations of the previous day continued to swirl in my mind- and yep, the glaring pimple on my forehead was intact, not to mention my syllabus, still woefully incomplete. The new year is just what it claims to be- a new year. There is no restart button or renewal subscription, just another set of 365 days.
This is why no part of me resonates with the phrase ‘New Year, New Me’…because I’m not new at all. I’m the same person I was on the 31st of December 2017, since I haven’t tried changing at all from then till now. However, the me from that day wasn’t the same as the one who cried her heart out on the first of that month; because she had resolved to change.
I no longer hold much faith in new year resolutions. January 1st is nothing but an arbitrary date, an inane excuse we use to smooth over the chasms of our unfulfilled goals from the past year. It doesn’t hold any extra possibilities or hope.
It’s a good thing, then, that I attach so much meaning to every single ordinary day. At 12 a.m. yesterday I wished my family a happy new year, but on 12 a.m. most other days, I wish myself (and often others as well) a happy new day.
So no; I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, because my resolutions are created daily. Some time in January this year, I resolved to write. Every time over the course of the year I learned something about myself that I didn’t like, I resolved to change it. When I learned that jumping in my room to a pop song at 2 am is the best cure for a case of unstoppable tears, I resolved to do that. On the 1st of December, I resolved to start a blog- and on the 15th, I did.
This morning, I resolved to write this post; so here I am.
2017 was, without a doubt, a year worth remembering. My diary will regale you with tales of all the low points, but my photo gallery sings songs of some of the finest moments of my life. It’s easy to focus on the positives and negatives; I’ll do neither. The events of the past year are of no interest to somebody who knows nothing of my life. What I’ve learned, however- that’s what I’d like everybody to know.
I litter my surroundings with messages addressed to a version of me in the future. Sometimes I read the little reminders on the post-its on my cupboard 5 times in the same day; other times, I come across a piece of sage (albeit unsolicited) advice buried within an old notebook that I haven’t seen in years. This tendency grew throughout 2017, so I have 10 scraps of thoughts from these various sources that succinctly sum up what I’ve learned this past year.
i) Motivation is self-created.
This is something that came up in my first post as well, and is a concept that I’ve explored thoroughly over the past year. Perhaps the biggest and most important revelation that I’ve had has been this: you can’t sit around staring at your hands, waiting for passion and motivation to knock at your door.
Motivation is self-created; but once you get started, it’s often self-sustaining.
ii) Sometimes, words aren’t enough, and that’s okay.
I’m the kind of person who tries fixing situations and sorting out problems by immediately talking or writing about it. My go-to method for cheering somebody up is a cute, positive note or message; it may not fix things, but you can never go wrong with a little extra happiness. What I learnt this year, however, was that while such gestures may help make people feel loved, sometimes words just don’t do the trick. Also, not everything can be solved by talking things out, so having patience and giving things time are both equally important. Neither of the two comes easily to me, but I’ve done better over the past few months.
iii) Even pseudo-positivity is better than negativity.
Negativity is like a dead weight that settles within me, sinks to the bottom of my chest and creates a rift in the equilibrium of my being. Negativity is a spiral, a hurricane; terrifyingly destructive and pulls everything into it. It seeks me out, but I avoid it at all costs, because a touch of negativity is enough to taint my vision, to add a swirl of darkness to my thoughts. Being an overthinker means that a lot of my negativity is self-created. It also means that the best way to counter it is by churning positivity- and if at times it may be a tad fake, I’d still take that over the alternative any day.
iv) Stability is not stagnation.
We have a tendency to associate monotony with stagnation. If you have a routine, a fixed, stable way of doing things, you may feel as though you’re not progressing at all; and yet, isn’t stability what most people seek in life? To have a stable job, a family to come home to, to be able to know with certainty that you are loved and cherished- that’s stability, and it’s a far cry from stagnation.
v) Say what you mean and mean what you say; but don’t be mean.
A lot of people tell me that I’m diplomatic, or that I choose my words with a little too much care. They’re not wrong. Maybe I’m excessively sensitive to the impact that words may have, but I’m aware of the way even single sentences hold the ability to pierce my heart. People’s words stay with me, they swim around in my mind for days. Sometimes they settle, but always resurface when I’m at my lowest. So this past year, I started making an active effort to pick words that wouldn’t hurt the other.
Also; I don’t hesitate before expressing myself. I gently place my ego to the side, lower my barriers to about midway, and offer my heart to the person before me. Sometimes, it gets a little lost on its way back, but I’d rather it go out and learn more about the world than stay sheltered within the confines of my ego.
vi) Do not let any aspect of your life revolve around anybody else.
This is perhaps the most straightforward of the ten. I have a tendency to associate certain things with certain people, and that works out wonderfully for as long as the two are in tandem. If one falls behind, though, I’m the one it affects- so I resolved to make myself the centre of all my tiny universes, and to keep others in my orbit, as close as possible.
vii) An anchor must learn to sink before it can hold a ship steady.
I actually read this on Shamir Reuben’s instagram, and it stayed with me for days until I finally wrote it down. What does it mean? Are you the anchor or the ship? However you may interpret it is up to you; the fact remains that everything in life has to happen at its own pace. You can’t jump the gun and hope to achieve something beyond your current capability and capacity, but that in no way implies that you won’t be able to in the future.
viii) Self-care and self-love aren’t the same as doing whatever it takes to make yourself feel okay- that’s selfishness.
We often tend to do and expect things that are extremely self-centred, all in the name of taking care of our own mental health. Admittedly, it is justified to expect help and sacrifices from loved ones in order to sustain one’s peace of mind, but to what extent? Just because the option exists, it doesn’t mean that it should always be availed. Take care of yourself in the best way you know how, but don’t expect everybody else to willingly fetch the moon for you; because maybe they will, but then you’ll be so accustomed to that you won’t be able to function without it.
ix) Be the version of yourself that you’d be happy to read about.
This works in two ways. When I re-read things from my past (chats, diaries, letters) I often cringe, and that’s okay, because our teenage years are meant for growth and awkward phases are unavoidable (when will mine end??!). What irks me, though, is that I tend to be disappointed by the kind of person I was or my attitude towards many things in life. I have changed, now; but there’s always scope for improvement, and so my aim remains to be the person I’d find remnants of and be proud of.
Also- if you were in a novel, would you be your own favourite character? If not, let that be the goal.
x) It’s okay to have expectations, but only if you’re capable of meeting them yourself in case others don’t.
We give everybody bits of ourselves. We invest love and time, and we don’t do it for returns, but when the time comes, we do tend to expect reciprocity. As justified as that is, what if this expectation isn’t met? Can you fill the gap on your own? If not, then either lower your expectations or heighten your capabilities; because at the end of the day, you will care about yourself the most.
All things said and done, I had a good year. It was a year of a lot of introspection that culminated in personal growth. I achieved some long term goals, finally managed to set a couple of new ones, and gained perspective on the perceived enormity of my problems. I loved wholly, with an intensity that is unparalleled. I had a good year, and that’s a matter of my own perspective, so I’m looking forward to 2018 being just as memorable.
Happy new year!