My New Year's Resolutions For 2021

The moment when 2020 turned into 2021, I was sitting in my friend’s dark bedroom in an atmosphere of humid vape juice and pot, amidst couples kissing on couches and the sound of mechanical cheering coming from the flat-screen TV. One girl turned to me, laughing, and suggested I kiss the dog, being the only single one there. The dog looked at me with bored passive eyes. I elected not to kiss her.

I had long since dismissed New Year’s resolutions as a trite empty thing moms use as an excuse to update their Facebook status. But right then--suddenly aware of the fact that it was New Years and I was in sweatpants, and the sounds of lips smacking, and the big tired eyes of the dog on the bed next to me--I began to plan, for the first time ever, my New Year's resolutions. The first one was that I did not want to be in this same room in a year doing what I was doing now; that resolution seemed like the best place to start.

That night, I walked home through slick lightless streets, locked the doors behind me of a house already dark and without movement. My bedroom was a wreck--clothes strewn haphazardly over the floor, every horizontal surface cluttered with books and jewelry and old coffee mugs. I made an addition to my mental resolutions list--get your shit together--and crawled into bed.

When I woke up the next morning, the list was still fresh on my mind. I have never been a planner, but for some reason, without this done, I felt itchy, restless, unsatisfied. I made a cup of coffee, sat down with my notebook, and wrote at the top of the page in big block letters:

 

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS 2021

-be somewhere different than you are now

-get shit together

 

It occurred to me for the first time that these were incredibly vague. I tried:

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS 2021

-go minimalist (donate stuff you don’t need!!)

-workout more

-stick to a morning routine

-dress cuter

 

Making this list satisfied me--specific, efficient, a catalyst for real change. I spent that day cleaning my room, sorting out clothes and old books to donate. I started a bullet journal to track habits I wanted to build. I planned out a whole morning routine, including meditation, skincare, journaling, and as many at-home exercises as I could think of. That night, I went to bed in a clean room, feeling incredibly put-together.

I lasted about four very productive, efficient days. On the fifth day, I overslept my 8 am alarm and had to cut out whole chunks of my elaborate pre-breakfast routine to get my brother to school on time. The day after that, I woke up with searing heartburn that made squats out of the question. From there, my New Year’s resolutions did what most New Year’s resolutions end up doing: disintegrated slowly but surely.

A few days after I gave up even trying to force myself into a halfhearted plank, I was flipping through my notebook when I found myself stopping on the NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS page, getting angry at myself all over again. How could I expect to grow and change when I couldn’t even stick to a resolution for more than a week? Was I that lazy? What was wrong with me?

But then I read through my resolutions again, and something occurred to me: I didn’t care about doing any of the things I had written down. Getting organized sounded good, but I also despise minimalism. I realized that I’m typically way more productive at night than I am in the morning--why did I think it was a good idea to have a morning routine? As I went down the list, I realized everything on it was someone else’s idea of productivity--not mine. And how could I expect myself to structure my day around activities I didn’t want to be doing?

I tore out the page, crumpled it up, and wrote on a fresh piece of paper:

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION 2021

Figure out what I want--what excites me, what challenges me, what forces me to grow--and put my energy into it. Ignore everything else.

 

I am happy to report this is a resolution I have been able to keep so far.

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