Turns out the run up to Christmas was way worse than the day itself. Or should that say ‘days’? I mean just how long is Christmas actually? Sometimes it feels endless. From Christmas Eve until the day after Boxing Day, I formed an intimate relationship with my pyjamas and almost perfect solitude. Did what I wanted when I wanted. I read, I ate, I watched. Took part in #JoinIn on Twitter. All mostly from a horizontal position. In the absence of the guilt usually accompanying this behaviour when it is mental health related. Because I knew that for 48 hours or so I was not alone in laying there, doing nothing. For that brief period of time I was ‘normal’.
So now New Year’s Eve is hurtling this way with all the expectations of what the turn of the clock will bring. Not only is it a new year, it’s a new decade…double the pressure of ‘time for a new you!’. From media, from business, from inside yourself. I don’t buy it. I never have. You are still the same person that you were before the midnight chimes rang, the week before, the month before. I guess some people may have had a sudden life changing experience but most of us won’t have. So why put pressure on ourselves to suddenly become this mythical better person?
This date has no real significance other than what we give it. It is the change from one 24-hour period to another. Nothing more. Given significance as a time to mark our planet making its lap around the sun. It is not even when all countries and cultures mark the new year. So why go with the expectation that because of this division of time imposed on us by the Romans and solidified by the Gregorian calendar, we can suddenly change ourselves and emerge as the butterfly does from its chrysalis? Why not use a date of more personal significance such as a birthday?
I get that for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it is at the time of year after the winter solstice when the days start lengthening so can be seen as a time of new beginnings. But it is still dark. It is for many people the time of year when they feel most miserable and in need of comfort. Of familiarity. Not of new, big changes.
People set themselves up to fail. Year after year. And I don’t understand why.
Despite my anti-resolution stance, I do though find the turn of the year a natural time for reflection. There is something about it that invites a look at where you are. Are you still heading in the direction you wanted to? Are you living by the values that make your life fulfilling? What have you learnt? It feels especially strong this year as I approach the end of my counselling sessions and their focus on this very issue. With the realisation that I have spent way too much of my time alive living by values not necessarily reflecting my own. I am trying to look back over 2019, not with an eye to how I have failed – my usual default approach – but to see where I have succeeded. How I have grown. What I have learnt. And what all that tells me about where I move on to from here.
I guess for some people, resolutions work. For some, it’s about reflection. For others, just a change at the end of a number as the clocks move ever onwards. Either way, we are approaching 2020 and all it may bring with it. So, I will wish you a Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the flipside.