“New Year, new you.” That’s the slogan. Starting fresh sounds appealing, no?
For many of us, that’s been more true now than ever before. A lot of us are happy to say goodbye to 2016. We’re looking boldly ahead to 2017 and slamming the door shut on this disastrous 12-month saga.
At the same time, many of us are anxious about what the future will bring. As we leave this hot mess of a historical moment behind us, we face increasingly uncertain times ahead. What will 2017 bring?
For me, it’s made for a somewhat muted holiday season. There’s an added pressure that I feel during this time of year which is already stressful enough. Holidays, consumerism, family, religion all make these few weeks overwhelming. And that’s not even to mention the bustle over New Year’s resolutions.
It’s a fantasy, really. You can’t go to sleep one person and wake up somebody else, no matter how strong your resolve, and no matter what day of the year. That’s just not how it works.
We expect so much of ourselves, like our limitations can be shed from one day to the next, or like we are so self-destructive and just need to make better decisions. It sends this message that we are never good enough. That we are always in need of a drastic, radical, miraculous transformation to advance away from what we are and be better.
I’m comfortable with who I am, and while this year has been the most trying of my life so far, I’ve also grown incredibly, and made so many improvements to who I am and how I live my life. Looking at all that I’ve accomplished, I know that I will go on to accomplish more.
I don’t need to berate myself into doing it – it’s going to happen regardless. Why? Because that’s who I am as a person. I have within me the innate desire to learn and grow and love radically; to help others, to do no harm, to strengthen community and nurture life. I want to acknowledge those intrinsic qualities, and in doing so, give them space to flourish. When I honor that part of myself, it becomes a more established part of my identity.
I can see how the New Year’s ritual might be genuinely helpful to some. Those people are free to enjoy it without shame. For the rest of us, the whole thing is notorious for being prone to failure and making us feel bad about ourselves.
We need healthier ways to usher in the new year. We need rituals that are invigorating, nourishing, and grounding.
What I want is to celebrate myself, to relish in the fact that I am alive.
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I want to gently orient myself toward being the most loving and joyous self I can be. I also want to maximize my emotional resources, so that when the time comes to act I can do as much as possible for myself and my community.
To that end, I’m switching up my New Year’s. I’m not going to set arbitrary goals for productivity, and in the process undervalue who I am as a person. And I’m not going to set goals for my health that just make me feel like I can’t heal quickly enough.
I’m going to have the most restful and wholesome New Year’s I can manage. Here’s how you can join me:
Celebrate your personal growth.
This year has brought ups and downs and above all, changes. 2016 has left us older and wiser. We’re all learning new things about ourselves and our place in society. Hopefully, we’ve made more than a few positive changes over the year, even if they’re just little things like cutting down on caffeine or taking a stroll outside more often. Whatever ways you feel like you’ve progressed, celebrate them. It’s always worth acknowledging the things you’ve done well.
Reinvigorate your self care routine.
This is self-explanatory. We deserve to feel well taken care of, and we also need every ounce of wellness we can get. Whatever self-care routines or indulgences you rely on, be generous with them. Treat yourself!
Choose something that you will do for yourself in the coming year.
This is a great alternative to setting goals for yourself, especially if that’s a ritual you’re accustomed to. Think of something you’ve been wanting to do and give yourself permission to follow through with it.
Get to know yourself from a new angle.
With all this change we don’t want to lose touch with ourselves or get bogged down in old perspectives. Make some time to get to know yourself. Take note of all your different hobbies, attributes, etc. and fashion a narrative about yourself that is empowering. Try to fall in love. You can even take yourself on a date!
Abstain from social obligations that make you uncomfortable.
Part of what is so emotionally exhausting about the holidays is the overload of social obligations. This New Year’s, give yourself permission to skip any social gathering that you think will be tiring. Put that energy toward resting instead. Consider it a gift to yourself!
Cut loose some baggage.
We all have baggage. Be it secrets, bad friends, a messy house, guilt, or abusive family, there’s something crappy weighing down each and every one of us. This New Year, try to find ways to lighten the load, from downsizing on the stuff you own to setting new boundaries with people. Take whatever steps are manageable toward setting yourself up for peace of mind.
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7. Appreciate who you are right now.
Do this rather than thinking about the ways you wish you were different. Most of us wish we were a little different, a little better in one way or another. Sometimes those desires are informed by internalized oppression, sometimes by the desire for liberation.
But whoever you may want to be, you’re also invaluable as you are right now. You deserve to acknowledge that unapologetically.