We’re A Month Into 2020. Here’s What I’m Doing Differently.

With the sweeping of the New Year comes the inevitable-- promises to ourselves we intend to keep, the notion that we’ll be different, or we’ll be better. New year, new me. It’s one of the oldest tales in the book-- the first day of the year equates to paralyzing resolutions so grand, that in the back of our minds, we know we’ll never keep them. In fact, our lack of commitment to New Year’s resolutions has become a cliche in itself. TV shows portray it, comedians poke fun at it, and journalists write every year explaining exactly why we can’t execute these promises to ourselves.

This year has been different. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the new decade-- but I’ve seen the change, and I’ve felt clarity I’ve begun to crave by routine. The end of 2019 saw moments that forced me to reflect-- to think on the past ten years, and vow to utilize my experiences for the better. To make the changes I so desperately need.

The lessons I’ve learned are perhaps things I should know by now. And it’s not that I was completely unaware-- I think it’s just easier to ignore the imperfections, at times. But when there’s constant factors in things being kept from ideal… you have to unlearn old habits, and patch them with new ones.

Image Courtesy of Anne Merrill

It starts with caring less about the things that don’t truly matter. At the end of the day, there’s at least a handful of things you feel secure in-- familial relationships, mutually beneficial friendships, even co-workers or classroom peers. When you’re able to fully support and be supported by another, the people who make you feel insignificant become less relevant. It’s hard to focus on the small things when there’s so much more to celebrate. There’s a bit of serenity found in not allowing people to have power over you, and not allowing them to get the best of your day. The goal isn’t to not care at all-- it’s to stop caring about the wrong things.

This notion is matched with my next-- placing trust only with the people who deserve and have earned it. Loyalty has always been the most prominent aspect of every connection I’ve ever had. If there is no loyalty-- there’s absolutely nothing. How can your trust be placed in someone who takes no interest, or shows no allegiance toward you? It cannot be-- this is something that has burned me over and over again, and the common denominator has always been the same. Trust is special-- it cannot be tossed around, and it shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of Anne Merrill

It’s also important to understand that different people will have various interpretations of the same story. With different life experiences comes different background knowledge that will allow people to view single occurrences in their own unique point of view. It’s important to remember this, and to not jump to conclusions and assume something is done with poor intent or motivated by self-interest. This can surely be the case-- but cynicism hurts. I’ve found I’m happier when I can assume there’s some heart in there.

Confrontation must also be learned. When there’s a hundred different interpretations floating around, and so many possibilities for instances of miscommunication-- we must communicate. We must confront. Living with notions that can often be disproved isn’t worth avoiding the initial stress of confrontation-- this will only build, and one day, it’ll drive you crazy. I have never been direct enough, and it’s led to misjudgements in connections I cherish. It’s not worth it. Even if you never master the art of confrontation and sincerity, learning is the first step.

For the sake of enhancing the relationships that matter the most, my final declaration is to foremost make time for the people who make time for you, outside of when they need something. This keeps away feelings of being a last resort, or of being nothing more than the spare. No matter what, somewhere in the back of your head, you know who has your best interests. You know who truly cares for you. These are the people who deserve your time. Not the person who only pops in when everyone else has left, or the person who only wants to see you when you happen to have something they want.

Image Courtesy of Anne Merrill

These notions have meanings that are different to everyone. And they don’t come without trial and error. Days where you let things slide. Days where you justify tendencies that have hurt you in the past. But this is inevitable, in anything you do-- whether it’s spending your resolutions wanting to be more organized, or wanting to eat healthier. You’ll fail, at times. But if the sentiment and recognition is there-- it’s what counts the most. Having spent a month following these concepts, I can say I feel lighter. If anything at all, it’s taught me self-value, self-worth, and the importance of drawing the line somewhere.