Why I'm Lowering my New Year's Expectations

Last year was a disaster. It’s popular lore that the whole world just decided to be completely terrible and stressful and unproductive and violently terrible. 

Remember those first few weeks of January 2020 when everything seemed possible—when people threw “roaring ‘20s” parties and toasted champaign to what they thought were the best years to come? I was one of them. It’s natural to be hopeful. And yet, I fell so far because of it. And in a continued age of economic crisis and unimaginable death, I’ve decided to be kinder to myself, to not expect more than I can take. 

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not setting goals. I’m a planner at heart. That’s probably why I’ve been so incredibly flustered since March. When I first arrived home to a living room FULL of all my sister’s and my belongings from college, crammed to every inch of carpet, allotted endless amounts of sleep by a world that had no idea what to do next, I made a schedule. That’s right. 

First, we had to go through my sister’s closet. It was already bursting at the seams before her college wardrobe needed to find a space in the double-wide space. Set bags of clothes in the garage for when GoodWill decided to open again. Next, my own closet, because she was inevitably going to want 50% of what I didn’t. More bags for hypothetical GoodWill. A few bags to drop at my other sister’s doorstep. Then we packed away our colligate belongings. I redesigned my sister’s room, with a new bed and pictures and furniture scrounged from the depths of our basement. Eventually, we even went through the basement, where all of our things from college resided over the summers—along with 56 years of my mother’s things. And yet, from March to now, I have not read a single book, finishing the year with 2/10 from my resolution list. I never danced in a bar or fell in love, turning 21 in the darkest days of April, before I had even seen my own father. I never stopped interrupting people when talking. I got better at it, but maybe just because there haven’t been many people to talk to. I didn’t write a novel. I didn’t even do yoga. And I was disappointed in myself, almost like I’d been wasting my life, watching it tick by from my childhood bedroom. 

Bristol working from home scene Photo by Mikey Harris from Unsplash “This year will be different,” I said, per usual, but this year I meant it. No more unreachable goals. I do not have to push myself to my breaking point to be deemed worthy. I can grow at my own pace. I need more naps. I need to nourish my body with chocolate and food that makes me happy. I need to dance around the kitchen more in dresses that make me feel like Stevie Kicks and walk around my neighborhood when the weather is just of hint of chill on my nose. 

This year—2021—I am going to graduate from college. I am going to find a new hobby. I am going to submit one of my short stories for publication. I am going to read 20 books that I enjoy. I am going to grow out my hair. I am going to call my grandparents more. I am going to try to make sustainable choices. I am going to let myself breathe.