I usually don’t make resolutions. Last year, I made about 50 resolutions, of which I failed at about 40. I don’t know why my ambition fluctuates so aggressively, but this year I’ve caught another wave, and, with my inflated sense of self in tow, am opting for resolutions less tangible. So, while for the third year in a row I would love to learn how to surf, that won’t make it on the formal list.
I don’t know why I’m publishing this. At this point, I actually might not. I’m not wise, and I’m definitely not encouraging you to model your aspirations around mine (because I would not wish my 95% train wreck on my worst enemy (just kidding I absolutely would I’m a vindictive bitch)). The easy answer is accountability: maybe if 20 people read that I’m trying to be a better person, I’ll feel a sense of responsibility to actually follow through. And I think there’s some logic to that, but it doesn’t feel true. There are two harder answers, which I’ll approach with a sense of humor to obfuscate the sad truths they might uncover about the kind of person I am. I want to be the kind of cool girl (TM) who sets goals! and wears lipstick! and is reflective and self-aware and confident yet also humble! And, in my head, that girl also publishes her writing on facebook — so for all my failures in confidence, and self-awareness, and humility, I can check this box and be that cool girl (TM) in this way. I also feel compelled to publish/share this because I want to be open about my thoughts and experiences and dreams, because I like the attention and connection that starts with openness. This is selfish, I know. But I’m happy when I get to tell pieces of my story, and when I get to learn pieces of the stories around me. I’m sliding into cliches, but I lack eloquence and am struggling to find more accurate language for how I feel.
Anyways, here are the things I’m going to do in 2016. If you like them, you can do them too.
- I am going to do the things that a person who loves herself would do. I don’t love myself a lot of the time, and I have a paralyzing memory of all the ways I fall short of a self that I could love. But a person who loves their body would eat more avocados, and exercise more, and wear all the crop tops, midi skirts, and blue lipstick that I was too afraid to in 2015. A person who loves their mind would share their ideas openly, and defend them with vigor. A person who loves their heart would seek out connections, friendships, and relationships, and would take risks knowing that even if things fail, they are still themselves, and they are great. I’m bad at a lot of these things, and it’s hard for me to love myself sometimes, but my theory is that if I change the symptoms of low self-esteem, the people around me will treat me like a person of worth, and eventually I’ll believe it. This isn’t a new idea — it’s actually pretty worn out, in thought pieces, and inspirational facebook memes. But I’ve seen it work in myself. The person I was in 2013 was far less bold and far less confident than the person I am now. I have a ways to go, but I’ve come far.
- I am actively going to eliminate bad habits. I have a full spectrum of bad habits: I pick my cuticles, I eat dairy even though I’m intolerant, I fall asleep watching netflix almost every night, I compulsively online shop, I procrastinate (and if the option is available, I cheat). But I also have habits that are dark, and secret, and have the power to do major damage to the people I care about. I grew up in a white, conservative, Christian family in a white, conservative, Christian suburb. Before my mind was soiled with the devil’s liberalism, I was raised in a community that didn’t particularly value women, queer humans, or black bodies. And while both I and my community have progressed massively since my most formative years, the ghosts of racism, sexism, and homophobia manifest themselves in my mind and my actions despite all logic to the contrary. When I see a black man, my instinct is still fear. When I see another woman, my instinct is to devalue and compete. I am working to do better to correct this instinct, but in 2016 I am going to be aggressively purposeful in completely eliminating these thoughts from my subconscious. I will listen to black artists, surround myself with women in STEM, listen to the stories from the marginalized people in my life, and I’ll speak loudly about the obscene thoughts and injustices happening to these people still today.
- I’m going to appreciate the good people in my life, walk away from toxicity, and put the work in to develop meaningful relationships. This is trite. I was given this advice when I was six-years-old in Brownies: “make new friends and keep the old.” This was the mantra of every middle school breakup, and every petty fight with my three best friends at the start of high school. But somehow, after all these years of this message being drilled into my brain, I am still so bad at nourishing the right relationships. The past two and a half years have spoiled me absolutely rotten with adventurers, listeners, laughers, wine-enthusiasts, study partners, two groups of the best people in the world, and countless stories of people who care way more about me than they should. And yet, I found myself sitting in bed for a night of 30 Rock episodes way too many times in 2015 (no shade to 30 Rock, it’s a masterpiece). There are people who, for a number of silly reasons, care about me, and the feeling is usually mutual. 2016 is the year for repurposing my energy towards deepening those relationships even further. In a similar vein, this also is going to require me to recognize the relationships that are one-sided, or built-to-fail, or just generally unhealthy, and to walk away. No more energy to relationships with bad byproducts in 2016.