A new mindset for the new year

I’ve never bought into the traditions of New Year’s Eve. Black-eyed peas taste awful, the ball drop makes no sense, and obviously I’ve never kissed anyone at midnight.

2016 will be different. You can’t call any year in which you seriously contemplated suicide a good year. It’s a year that demands change. So for the first time ever, I’ll wade into the waters of self-improvement and try to hold myself to some resolutions.

Set aside one day a week to create something. I’ve accepted the fact that my ideas aren’t particularly new or innovative. I will never be a pioneer. But I can take pride in writing or producing a podcast and saying, I made that.

It doesn’t have to be the same day each week — it would probably help if it was — but at least once in seven days, I’d like to write or record something. It’s been pretty therapeutic to channel my thoughts and emotions into a few hundred words.

I’ve never made a speaker out of a Pringles can or found a creative use for bottle caps. Projects for a rainy day, I suppose.

Call people. Texting is too easy. You have enough time in between messages to put up a wall, hide your true feelings and craft the perfect response. There is no greater capacity for honesty than a phone call and having to answer in an instant.

There’s an art to telling a story, and texting tends to dilute it. I appreciate the challenge of trying to tie everything together on the spot. I miss the spontaneous laughter it brings or the half-dozen other memories it triggers. When you text, you don’t really know if the other person is laughing out loud. A phone call leaves no doubt.

If you have my phone number, don’t be afraid to call and I won’t be afraid to answer. And if you don’t have my number, find it.

Netflix is not a hobby. Every Christmas my father would buy me a set of Topps baseball cards and I’d spend the whole afternoon sorting them. My uncle helped me start my collection by passing down his ten-year supply of cards, mostly Reagan-era sets from Donruss, Fleer and Score. Somewhere in my closet is an unopened 1991 Seattle Mariners pack from Upper Deck with Ken Griffey Jr. on the top.

Griffey is the reason I wore my hat backward and the reason I bought only fitted hats, to avoid that tuft of hair sticking out the front. I collected hats and cards and odds and ends, but I gave all those hobbies up in high school. You just run out of time. When it comes to Netflix, though, we find time or just let it overlap with something else.

I’m not giving up my subscription — no, you’ll have to pry the iPad from my cold, dead hand. But I’m getting tired of staring at a screen all day.

Drums are probably a little loud for an apartment, but I’m ready to graduate from the air guitar to a real one.

Get on Tinder. Nobody who has seen you thinks you’re attractive enough or interesting enough for a date. That’s how I’ve summarized online dating for the past decade, and it’s an unfair assessment when you consider the couples who met at college. (Also, why was I thinking about online dating at nine years old?) During my freshman orientation, a speaker posed an interesting hypothetical when he said, “Your husband or wife might be in this room.”

There’s also a possibility that my future wife is as insecure as I am. Women really want you to cross the street, tell them they’re cute and ask them out, I remember reading somewhere. There is no way I’m doing that and no chance it actually works. Ditto for asking out that girl on the other side of the classroom: You’re supposed to be studying economics, Kourage, not studying me.

But I’m somewhere between alone and lonely, and I’d like to fix that. So let’s give Tinder a shot. “Kourage, 19: Financially stable enough to buy you a two-topping pizza.”

Turn sorry into thank you. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? I don’t think it’s even half-empty. Most of the time I feel like someone is pouring out my cup and throwing it against the sidewalk in an explosion of glass, or using mine to fill theirs. Or maybe you’re right, and the glass is half-full. But it’s half-full of poison.

One day I woke up and I couldn’t find joy in any of the usual places. I lost someone close to my heart and thought at the time they’d left my life forever. I’ve wrestled with my faith, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and empty when all I could offer in the face of tragedy were “thoughts and prayers.”

Becoming a happy person isn’t a realistic resolution, at least not all at once. But I stumbled upon a radical first step: saying thank you instead of sorry.

Sorry, I don’t know what I’m saying … Thank you for understanding.
Sorry, I guess I’m wasting your time … Thank you for listening.
Sorry I’m such a disappointment … Thank you for having hope in me.

It won’t be easy. Nobody said it would be. In fact, most people remind you how often New Year’s resolutions fail. That’s why I came up with five. Achieving any one of these won’t solve every problem, but it’s a start.

The beauty of it all is that it’s never too late to start. I bought a microphone set for $50 in November, and it’s free to post on Medium. But for some reason, we all pick the last week of December to evaluate ourselves. Opportunity is always knocking, but we don’t always pay attention.

For the first time in a long, long time, I’m answering.

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