January 1st: the old and the new

As a self-confessed over-thinker, the New Year in recent years was a time of intensive planning and forecasting, my brain whirring under the pressure of making this year my year. This surpassed 140 characters of proclaiming the new habits I would form on a “2017, I’m coming for you #newyear #newme ” vibe. I’m talking planners and journals, vision boards and diaries, affirmations and…you get the point (what can I say — I’m a Virgo, we like to plan). Yet, as the clock struck midnight, that bubbling sensation of anticipation gave way to disappointment. Just as steam drifts indiscriminately, I discovered I still hadn’t found my way.

This New Year is different. I didn’t feel the heightened pressure as 2018 approached nor did I feel like a let-down. Like I’d let myself down. That’s not to say that I haven’t started the year with hopes and expectations. (To do so would be cheating — without hope, one cannot experience anticipation nor defeat). Instead, I’m seeing this new beginning with a fresh perspective.

There is no doubt that the New Year is both literally and symbolically a chance for revival and renewal. December’s carefree spirit is tempered by the intentionality of a new beginning. The two months, at opposite ends of the spectrum, cancel each other out. But January isn’t just the month of moderation. So often we experience ourselves to be at the mercy of time, the years passing faster and faster as we age. Yet while the pressure to succeed seems to balance delicately on how one starts this particular day, January 1st is the most forgiving date of the year. For once, time is gracious, granting each of us with the opportunity to start again.

But, before we get carried away with new beginnings, what if we sing the praises of continuity, the trusty and stable sidekick core to the protagonist’s success? For only a few moments, she, the past, is upheld as year-in-review threads unroll across my phone screen. Quickly 2018 steals the limelight and the year before becomes an increasingly distant memory. That might very well be a good thing. But it is still part of my story, of your story, of our story. Progress is what makes us human, but it is a tale of gradual transformation. The person you became got you to this point — don’t forget them so quickly.