All The Love a New Year Won’t Give You

Cute outdoor garden cafe

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.


Hey you, 

I don’t ever want this corner of the internet to be a one-sided conversation. If I could sit across from you and talk to you about all the jumbled thoughts & feelings you hold in that big heart of yours, I would. So let me know how you’re feeling about the new year in the comments below. I’ll be reading and responding!

Ash x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hoping to start off the year on the right foot? Then you need to be part of The Wednesday Club.

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

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High High Hopes For A Living:: Promises of A New Year

It’s the last Wednesday of the year and only five more days till 2018 comes to a close. And if I’ve learnt anything these last 22 years, it’s that hearts tend to get heavy around this time.

Now that Christmas is over, people will soon be accepting invitations to see the fireworks and engineering plans to stand next to the person they want to kiss at midnight. There’s something about the closing of a chapter that make us reflect and reminisce on the year that’s gone by. We wave goodbye at memories that’s been made, make lofty plans for the year ahead, and set massive goals as New Year’s Resolutions.

A few years ago, I remember standing in a park with friends on New Year’s Eve and looking up expectantly at the night sky. There was excited chatter as we waited for the fireworks to signify the start of the new year and a hopeful expectation lingered in the air for the year to come. But when the balls of light exploded in the dark sky and friends around me started cheering and pairing off, I remember feeling unsettled. A heaviness sat on my chest and as the buzz from the alcohol wore off, the questions began to flood my mind: What have I accomplished? What’s going to happen next year? Who will I meet and where will I go?

In a world where we’re constantly projecting our highlights online, I hope you know that it’s normal to feel anxious when the year comes to a close. It’s normal to feel scared and uncertain about what the next year is going to bring. It’s ok if you still feel lonely and like nothing’s changed even after the clock’s struck midnight.

As we slowly wandered back into the house and continued with the festivities, I wondered if there was something wrong with me for not enjoying the night. For not feeling giddy with excitement about the new year and all the transformation I hoped it would bring me. For feeling lonely and hoping that next New Year’s Eve, things would be different somehow.

I think most of us feel more anxious around this time than we’re willing to admit. We look back at our year and see all the things we failed to achieve and all of the bucket list goals we didn’t accomplish. We mourn the death of New Year’s Resolutions that never survived past the second week of January and we ache for the fantasies that have yet to pass.

It’s the last Wednesday of the year and only 5 more days till 2018 comes to a close. And if I’ve learnt anything after 22 holiday seasons, it’s that it’s ok if your year didn’t go as planned. It’s ok if you didn’t hit the all the milestones you wanted or if you didn’t meet the person you’ve been waiting on for a long time. Maybe you didn’t get the job you wanted or maybe you’re frustrated about not being ‘there’ yet. You aren’t the only one who’s ever mourned the dreams that have failed to arrive.

My mentor recently told me that I should acknowledge myself first. That I should give myself credit for all the things I’ve accomplished and all the milestones I did reach- no matter how small. Too often, we fail to acknowledge all the hard work, bravery and effort it took to initially step forward and achieve something. We can break out the confetti all day when someone we love takes a baby step forward, but rarely do we celebrate ourselves. Instead, we shove the proverbial trophy – the one we once saw as ‘the ultimate goal’- into a drawer as soon as we get it, and we immediately make plans to achieve the next big thing.

 I did that a lot this year.

It took a lot of bravery, courage and talking to people on the phone before I ever created this corner of the internet. It also took a lot of courage to pitch editors and write submissions before I ever got my work published on someone else’s page. Yet as soon as I got an acceptance email, I’d barely give myself a pat on the back before scouring the internet for more opportunities to have my work featured.

“I just want to feel legitimate,” I said to someone who had been published in dozens of reputable publications.

“No amount of bylines will ever fill up the hole inside of you that wants to be seen and heard,” she told me. “Write because it’s what you love to do. Write because there’s something you need to say. Don’t do it for the numbers. Just do it because you can.”

The lesson I learnt that day? That validation shouldn’t stem solely from numbers and accolades, and that sometimes the goal itself is not the point.

Give yourself credit for having the courage to put yourself out there – no matter how many rejections you received. Give yourself credit for daring to try something new. Congratulate yourself on taking risks and acting fearless. We’re all experts in making a list of the things we should fix about ourselves. But listing the things we should celebrate?  That’s the golden lesson of this life.

I’m willing to bet that so many of us feel anxious and unsettled because we’re afraid of the year that’s ahead. A new year, a fresh start, a blank slate, is capable of crippling just about anyone. That’s 365 days of things we know nothing about or have no control over. What will happen? Who will I meet? How will it unfold?

I used to believe that my life followed a pattern where I would live out one great year followed by a devastating one. I could trace this pattern all throughout high school where one year would be filled with incredible highs, and the next would involve me picking myself up off the floor. 2017 was far more golden beyond anything I could imagine, so I was waiting for 2018 to tear me up on the inside. I was so fearful that it was going the be the year where the bottom dropped out from beneath my feet and every good thing would crumble.

I was right.

The start of 2018 did buckle my knees and make me drop onto the floor.

But it was also filled with beautiful people and incredible ‘pinch-me-I’m-dreaming’ moments. It was a year filled with redemption, new dreams and a lot of pancakes.

All this to say that this may have been the year where nothing went to plan and you had to pick up all the broken pieces. This may have been the year where you truly tasted failure and the year you mumbled a lot of ‘Get me through this” prayers. But it may also have been the year you learnt how to stand up for yourself and figure out which five people you wanted in your corner. It may be the year you accomplished tiny goals, went a layer deeper with your friendships and laughed till your stomach hurt.

What I now know for sure is that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

Your year can contain days that leave you weeping on the bathroom floor. But it can also be filled with moments that leave you closing your eyes and whispering under your breath that you never want to trade this life for anything else.

And after all, isn’t that what life is? A series of mountaintop and valley moments all tied up in one. I don’t think we should ever go into a year expecting it to be full of highs or expecting a bad omen around every corner.

In 5 days, the clock will count down, fireworks will shoot into the sky and it will be a whole new year. I don’t know what 2019 will hold for you. I don’t have any authority to tell you whether it’ll be the year the things you’ve been praying for comes true or if it’ll be another year of hard times and waiting.

What I will say is that each year has its own four seasons. Just like how we cycle through Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, our year will have seasons filled with warmth from our closest friends, icy stings from rejection that may come our way, and a promise that things always grow back in the Spring.

The Wednesday Club

Need someone to show up for you?

Then The Wednesday Club is just for you!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

New here? Check out these babies: