New Years is the worst. I'll say it.
This morning I did my usual quick scan through social media when I woke up. For the most part, it was normal: pictures of my friends’ little ones, holiday parties, lots of puppies, some food videos in there, you know how it goes. There was one small exception to the normal though; the inevitable promotion of New Years parties and promises of New Year's resolutions is in overdrive.
So here’s where I’m at with this: first you feel stressed leading up to Christmas because of the pressure to have the perfect holiday, buy the perfect gifts, and make the perfect memories. Not to mention, if you’re struggling with mental illness you begin to loathe yourself even more because you can’t seem to just shelve it for a few days to enjoy yourself.
Then, once you’ve barely made it through all that chaos, you’re bombarded with the pressure to make the last day of your year perfect and ‘go out with a bang’. So far today I’ve seen four different NYE parties being promoted on Facebook, reminding me that if I want to start my new year off on the right foot, I better be at the best party in town.
Furthermore, you begin to feel guilty about the past year and convince yourself you need to do better in the new one; you know, lose some weight, make more money, buy a new house, and the list goes on.
No holiday should have the power to make you feel inadequate or less than if you can’t measure up to its unrealistic standards set by our society. But hey, it happens, and quite frankly, it’s annoying. All this pressure to achieve perfection, avoid the dreaded FOMO, and set probably unrealistic goals to be the best you possible is frustrating. Yet for some reason, I fall into its trap every year.
I started really thinking about years past and it made me sad; all of those years I desperately scouted for the perfect New Years Eve plans while envying others’, tried to find the perfect outfit, and timed hair/nail/tanning appointments strategically so I could look my absolute best. All for one. bloody. night. And then once you’re at the party, it’s making sure you have someone to kiss at midnight, be in the perfect spot with that perfect someone watching the ball drop, and so on.
Furthermore, January 1 was always my ‘last cheat day’, so I’d go all out in the weeks leading up to it and start fresh come January 2. All those years I swore to myself that this was the year I’d lose an extraordinary amount of weight and go to the gym every day.
Thinking about this now makes me want to take a big ol’ nap. How could I let myself fall so deep in that I dedicated hours and days putting together this facade that I thought was required to feel worthy? Why did I think my life and self were so bad that I needed to resolve to ‘be better’ in the new year? Finally, why did I always try to achieve this standard of perfection that I’m pretty sure doesn’t even exist?
Well, I guess it makes sense if you look at the society we live in. We’re constantly bombarded with imagery and messaging that we should be striving for perfection in all aspects of life. Weight loss challenges are as popular (and infamous) as Kim Kardashian come January, and they even manage to creep their way into our workplaces and homes almost daily thanks to social media and a society that thrives on toxic diet culture.
We make resolutions because society tells us we’ve never quite done: haven’t lost enough weight, don’t make enough money, haven’t been able to afford that boat yet, don’t have kids yet, haven’t got engaged yet, etc.
We’re conditioned to always be chasing after the next best thing and trying to one up our own selves, friends and family, even strangers, but be honest with yourself; will it ever truly be enough?
I took an honest, hard look at myself recently and realized that no matter what I had, how thin I was, how much I accomplished, etc, I’d always be wanting more. Nothing was and would ever be good enough.
I then wondered what would happen if instead of telling ourselves we weren’t good enough in one year and promising to be better in the next, we evaluated what we do have and what we accomplished – no matter how big or small – and accept and be grateful for that.
So maybe this year’s resolution – since we all seem to love them so much – should be to simply be content with who we are and what we have in the moment.
On that note, I’m going to reiterating some of my sentiments I posted on Instagram on Christmas Day in the hopes that the reminders are helpful as we enter a new year:
New Years Eve and Day are just two days out of 365.
You don’t need to go to a NYE party. It’s ok to stay home in your jammies and go to bed before midnight.
It’s ok if you stay in bed all day.If you do go out to a NYE party, you don’t have to wear something that makes you uncomfortable, buy a new outfit, go tanning, get lash/hair extensions or fake nails to ‘look your best’. You’ll look your best in anything you wear because you are you.
You don’t need to drink on NYE if you don’t want to.
You don’t need someone to kiss at midnight.
Most importantly, you don’t need to make resolutions to be better in 20. You are amazing just the way you are and that in itself is worth celebrating.