“My years have been good for awhile. I’m probably due for a bad one soon.”
I was at a friend’s for a Clue-themed murder mystery dinner party and this thought crossed my mind as we rang in the new year.
That year was fine. The following year was exciting: I changed jobs. The year after that had its stresses and began the slow descent into one of my worst years. Let’s not talk about 2017. And last year was beautiful, but was actually a really difficult year for me.
As I looked ahead to 2019 I realized that I started to view a new year with dread. What do you have in store for me, 2019? Are you going to be good or…? I started to think about all the things that could go wrong.
And that’s when I decided to take a step back. Why do I let the change from one day to another, one month to another, and yes, one year to the next have so much power over me? Why do I want to coast in these last few days of a year that were difficult, but also good, because there was good, and what if 2019 is the year of all bad with no good? (Which, spoiler alert: 2017, in all of its darkness still has so many wonderful moments that I cherish and wouldn’t give up.)
I see it all around. People who challenged a previous year and decide not to challenge the coming year. People who put so much hope and optimism into a new year. People who give it unrealistic demands. (New year, new me! We don’t need a new you. We need you.) People who create an endless list of goals they’ll never complete. People who create goals that will change as they change. People who, like me, dread the coming year.
What if we took that power away from the new year? Celebrate the passing of a year, yes. Maybe you want to create some goals. Maybe you have a word. I’m not saying we shouldn’t mark the passage of time. Instead of anticipating the best year of our lives, let’s take it as it comes and enjoy the beauty and successes that weave in and out. And instead of dreading what’s next, let’s take it as it comes and work to survive the heartaches and the failures.
This mindset doesn’t take away all of the anxiety I feel as a new year begins. It doesn’t remove all that could go wrong from my mind. But it allows me to say: “Hello, 2019.” That’s it. Hello, 2019. Hello, New Year. You’re here and you’re going to happen. There will be things that are out of my control. There will be things that are in my control. We’re going to get through it together.
As we start the new year, I also want to share some reminders with you:
1 // We can remove “New Year, New Me” from our vocabulary. Maybe there are some things about your life you’d like to change and that’s okay. Some of them might even be good, needed changes, and I’m so happy you’re working on yourself and working to become a better version of you.
But that’s just it. It’s a better version of you, not a new you. We don’t need a new you, because you are the only you there is. And you are wonderful.
2 // Your successes or failures in the new year (or in the last year, if you’re holding onto any guilt about the things you didn’t accomplish) do not make you more lovable. You are lovable just as you as you are. You have worth and value just as you are.
3 // You can make goals for your year today, but you don’t have to. If you do, you can give those goals space to fluctuate and change and even be removed throughout the year. If you don’t, you can make goals at any time. On a Monday morning as you drink your coffee, or on a Thursday night as you sip a glass of wine. At the start of a new year or a new month, or three days before the end of a month and you can start that day. You don’t have to wait until that magical little 1 appears, because that 1 isn’t actually magic. It’s not a doorway to new goals. Each day is a doorway to new goals.
In 2019 I wish you the best. But I also wish you joy in the midst of struggle, because one of thing I’ve discovered is that even the best years contain their own hardships.