Every January, you hear the same thing: ‘new year, new me’.
Everyone and their mothers want to begin the new year with the resolve for a new and improved self. For me, this involved deluding myself into thinking that I could finally attain the slim figure that I constantly envied, and until a couple of years ago, I thought that failing my way through this annual cycle was expected. However, without fail, my efforts always ended with shame and guilt when I didn’t achieve this ‘best self’, caved on my diet, and found myself noshing on cake by Valentine’s Day.
From my experience of shame-inducing Resolution fails, the notorious ‘New Me’ mantra puts so much pressure on our minds and bodies. More often than not, we set ourselves harmful, unrealistic goals, and the reality never seems to live up to the expectation. Year after year, I was desperately trying to change aspects of my body, personality and lifestyle so that I could finally gain approval from others, not to mention myself. The thought of accepting myself as I am was a foreign concept.
That’s why, for the past year, I’ve been trying to love myself in my current state, and approach self-improvement at my own pace: no more drastic life changes in a futile attempt to change myself into a person that I don’t hate. The self-love journey that I’ve been on has taught me that I actually like the person that I am, and I accepted that my flaws make me imperfect in the most uniquely human way.
Obviously setting goals for ourselves is a healthy and positive thing: it allows us to challenge ourselves and grow as individuals. However, it is also okay to approach your goals with a ‘baby step’ approach, go at your own pace, and respect your mind and body’s limits. Imagine what we could achieve when we channel our energy into realistic goals rather than wasting our precious time and energy on magically getting all of our shit together at once as soon as the new year hits.
Now, I’m focusing on improving on little things- things that don’t take massive amounts of effort, but still make my day a little brighter or the world a little better. This could include drinking more water, or smiling more at people. These things might seem small, but they all contribute to a more positive mindset and way of thinking.
I also don’t get along well with the phrase ‘this will be my year’, because, let’s face it, it probably won’t be (and I don’t mean that how it sounds). 2018, for me, was an extremely mixed bag of good things and bad things. I spent my first semester extremely depressed, and my mental state hit an all-time low, but over the summer, I worked on improving my mental health and I made different choices for myself, and the latter half of 2018 was filled with some of the best times in my life. Clearly, an entire 365-day period isn’t just going to be filled with good times – there will inevitably be bad ones. Trying to uphold the mantra that 2019 will be ‘your year’ will just lead to unnecessary disappointment when adversity decides to smack us in the face.
Imagine the good we could do for ourselves if we were kinder and more realistic with ourselves. Imagine the good we could do for the world if we channelled our energy into positive projects, instead of how many pounds we can lose. The road to our better selves is a long one and is probably filled with humps and obstacles, but that’s okay. We don’t have to become our best selves in one night, because something truly worthwhile is never easy. It takes time, effort, and patience.