All The Love a New Year Won’t Give You
It’s Day 002 of 2019 and I’m not going to sit here and talk to you about your New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to give you advice or encourage you to write all the goals you need to become a better person.
I’m sorry, I’m just not.
Because I’m sure in the last few days you’ve been inundated with posts and captions and stories about all the things people are doing to become shiny and new.
We humans love new. We love the shine and sparkle of a fresh start or a new present. I know I’m not the only one who promises to take extra care when I get hold of a brand-new gadget. I make sure I set it down on the counter softly. I imagine all the ways my life will become better because of this innovative piece of tech. I encase it in a hard-shell case and I’m careful not to bump it against anything. But when the shine inevitably wears off and it’s suffered from a few dents and bruises, I’m back to tossing it around, being nonchalant about dropping it, and forever testing the limits of its strength.
I think most of us approach the New Year like that. Heck, that’s how we approach a new week. A new year seems like a fresh start. We truly believe we can become a different person once the clock ticks past midnight. We put this ideal version of ourselves- the one that works out every day or drinks green smoothies- on a pedestal and hope that the new year will really bring about a new me. We treat it like a reset button that deletes all the terrible habits we’ve accumulated throughout the year, like midnight snacking and putting three sugars in our coffee. Above all, it’s blank slate containing no mistakes.
I remember when the clock struck midnight at the start of 2018.
Actually – no.
I don’t remember.
That’s because when the countdown ended, and the fireworks shot off into the sky, my head was jammed down the toilet throwing up the contents of my stomach because of one too many drinks. And so that’s how it started. Day 001 of 2018 began on the backend of a culmination of mistakes. Ones that I had been pushing down and desperately trying to avoid the consequences of. On the morning of the first of January, I cracked my bleary eyes open in a European hostel and felt shameful dread after reliving blurry memories of the last two months. I couldn’t help but believe the lie that this was going to set the tone for the rest of the year. That a precedent had been set for 2018 to unfold as disappointingly and as tragic as that first day. That the choices I’d made would cause ripple effects that would delay the dreams and fantasies I wanted to happen, as if a roadblock would erupt somewhere and divert all the things that I’d been hoping for onto a slower, longer route. The date on my phone flashed to say it was a new year, yet I still held on to all the mistakes that had been haunting me at the end of 2017.
I think so many of us like to give in to the lie that any wrong move we make will permanently shut the door on the things we want. We believe the choices we make carry a whole ton of weight, so we’re rendered paralysed when it comes to making a decision. Do I say yes to this invitation? Do I apply for this job? Do I date this person or should I wait? If we do make a choice that turns our badly, we feel like the whole house of cards has come tumbling down, and our efforts to rebuild will mean it’ll take extra-long before we finally get the things we want.
I remember coming back home and trying to explain to my friends why I felt this way. While holding back tears, I would tell them that surely my mistakes meant I was going to be disqualified in God’s eyes or that it would delay the arrival of the person I wanted to date. And surely it meant that my purpose in life was constantly going to elude me and that the string of bad decisions I’d made basically sealed my fate as a spinster who would always repel good things.
Maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but I know I’m not the only one who can feel like they’ve screwed up their whole life after one mistake. We believe that our actions are forever capable of screwing up the plans for our life.
But I just don’t think you’re that powerful.
I’m sorry. You’re just not.
Why do we believe we have so much power to wreck things, but not enough to start fresh? We’re big and mighty when it comes to ruining things in our lives, but when it comes to deserving the good things we see ourselves as too small and insignificant.
You’re not powerful enough to deter the plans for your life or the things that are meant to be yours.
If that were true, we would never ever receive good things. And I don’t want to believe that about your life. I know it’s really easy to repeat to yourself that nothing good ever happens to you. That sentence used to loop around my mind on repeat because I really couldn’t see any of the good things I had. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you to look for the little things: like that one friend who knows exactly what to say or the fact that ice cream exists in this world.
Maybe these are superficial examples, but sometimes that’s enough. You wouldn’t discount the beautiful, little things that you see in someone you love, so why would you discount yourself?
You’re not powerful enough to ruin the plans for your life.
But you are powerful enough to persist through each day and keep walking even when it’s dark and foggy.
You’re powerful enough to give yourself a fresh start any day you want.
All I know is that I spent January and February of 2018 feeling like I was the biggest screwup and that I had to spend the rest of the year paying my dues. There were days when I thought I would forever be trudging through the longest valley and always lost in the wilderness. But then the other 10 months of the year birthed something new and unexpected. People left and people entered. New parts of myself were discovered and things were whispered in my ear that soothed my soul. I took chances and said yes to people, only to have them turn around and say no. I shed so many litres of tears that I felt permanently dehydrated. And yet I still got up and surprises still happened. Now I know that just because things start off as foggy or feels difficult, or even just plain boring doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be.
There’s 363 days left before the next countdown. 363 days of things, events and opportunities you know nothing about. It’s normal if that sentence scares you. It might just mean it’s a year where you’re going to carve out something different for yourself. The opportunities you never expected to happen because you thought you’ve screwed up your life, will knock on your door. The dreams you thought were going to be delayed may show up in unexpected ways.
No matter how your New Year’s turned out, and no matter what you’re feeling on this 2nd day, I hope 2019 is a year of rebuilding what you’ve lost.
I hope it’s a year where the hard times help you discover a different part of yourself, and I hope it’s the year you finally begin to let others in.
I hope it’s a year where you know how to pick yourself up after an inevitable fall.
I hope it’s a year where all the stars are closer.
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