New Year, Old Me

We have crossed over a collectively agreed upon arbitrary date line once again and as such we vow to become better people than the year before. Two weeks in, I’ve already failed and thus will throw the entire year out the window and succumb to debauchery and other toxic behaviours.

Okay, not really.

I’ve done the resolutions thing. I’ve tried the theme word. They get written down at the beginning of the year and never referred to ever again. The end of the year comes around and as I look back, I see that the year looked nothing like what I thought it might at the beginning of the year—sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. Three hundred and sixty-five days is a long time. Like a river, it’ll ebb and flow and reshapes itself over time. I find it very difficult to sum up an entire year in such an absolutist way, beforehand or afterwards.

Dealing with life in small measures, whether measured in days, or even hours, feels more manageable. I started doing a daily reminder—a mantra, if you will—on my phone for when I wake up that helps me set my expectations for myself.

I’ll check in with myself throughout the day and be able to say whether or not I met the expectations I set for myself.

And yet, even then, it’s easy to fall into binary thinking. “Whoops, I made a mistake. I guess the whole day is a failure.” When in reality, I mostly succeeded.

And thus, in looking over 2023, it could be easy for me to see the terrible events and paint the entire year with that brush.

I had memorable trips with my boys. I completed my bucket list adventure. I hung out with friends around the world. I made progress in and out of therapy. I even started getting excited about developing again.

I’d rather let those things overshadow my outbursts and heartbreaks.

As I look to the year ahead and think of the potential milestones, the word that seems to come up the most is “progess”. Progress in my emotional regulation. Progress in my own healing. Progress in finding joy in my work and hobbies. Progress in developing happy and healthy relationships.

Which, looks like last year. Progress isn’t binary. It isn’t linear. It’s a squiggly line in time. One might even say it’s a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.†

This year, like the ones before it, will undoubtedly be a tapestry of joy and sadness, adventure and stillness, love and loneliness, difficult to summarize into a single word.

† I have not watched Doctor Who since the days of Tom Baker, so unsure whether that reference was appropriate or not. Also, I still want a scarf like that.

Published January 16, 2024
Categorized as Personal
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