It’s the start of a new year. There are lots of people jogging (everywhere, all the time), because it’s that time of year where we punish ourselves for our vices and decide that by this time next year, we will most definitely be a much better person.
I tell myself to be a much better person at the beginning of every week, never mind the beginning of every year. And every time I decide to go forth and become an infinitely better person, the whole thing quickly falls apart and I soon end up feeling much worse than I did to begin with.
This year, I’ve decided not to set myself up for failure and I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions. There are two reasons I always totally flunk at New Year’s resolutions:
1. I expect to see changes in myself almost immediately after deciding that I’m going to change.
2. My resolutions tend to be a bit vague and immeasurable like “Be healthy” or “Be less shit at everything”.
A while ago I wrote this post about how much I wanted to be someone totally different – someone who wakes up at dawn to do yoga, someone who is creative, productive and successful, someone who has deep philosophical conversations, someone who… (the list goes on). I have to be honest with myself: I AM NEVER going to be someone who wakes up bright and early, and does Yoga while reading… I dunno, Plato or whatever. What’s more, I’m actually okay with the fact I will never be this person.
Change shouldn’t about shoe-horning myself into a personality that doesn’t fit. My ideal version of myself – the clever, healthy, active creative with a mind that’s totally Zen – is not me. It’s never going to be me. If I became this person – the “perfect Me” – and I met perfect Me at a party, I would most probably want to punch perfect Me in the face. When I really think about it, perfect Me isn’t someone I would want to spend a lot of time with. I wouldn’t know what to talk to perfect Me about. In fact, perfect Me is probably someone I would bitch about behind their back. I would roll my eyes whenever perfect Me was talking. Perfect me probably wears Lycra and goes jogging. Perfect Me is probably a fussy eater… And that’s pretty much a deal breaker.
The more I thought about it, the more the perfect Me became less perfect and more smug and annoying. I realised that I don’t really like perfect Me at all. And if I don’t like the perfect version of myself, then why tell myself to become that person in the first place?
I started to wonder what was really so terrible about my imperfect life to make me feel like I had to become this Lycra-wearing object of perfection.
I decided to review what I’d achieved in 2012. While I realise that I didn’t make any particularly massive leaps forward with my life, in review, I think I achieved a fair amount. I completed the taught seminars on my MA, where I also made loads of new friends, I re-connected with old friends, I started writing for a couple of websites, I started writing a new novel and I (admittedly, in a totally random and seemingly impulsive manner) bought a dog.
And while none of my 2012 accomplishments have earned me an impressive salary, or landed me a publishing deal, or got me into some Lycra trousers, I’m safe in the knowledge that, in the very least, I’m heading in the right direction.
In the end, I decided to stop tormenting myself with thoughts of having a massive life overhaul and of becoming a person I don’t really want to be. And while there’s still a lot of room for change in my life, ultimately, I’m doing okay. Most people are doing okay. And that’s okay.
So while I’m still fully committed to trying new things and continuing with my 30 Before 30 list, I’m also not pretending that by the end of 2013, I will be a fit and healthy, intellectual, best-selling novelist with zero financial worries and a buzzing social life. All I want to get out of this year is to learn to be more appreciative of the things I have got and to just keep chipping away, slowly but surely, at the things I really want.
So here’s to 2013 – what I hope will be a slightly better year than 2012.