My New Year's Resolution: Enjoy the Moment

This year, on New Year’s Day, I woke up well in the afternoon. I had come home at 2 AM after enjoying the night with friends, watching Netflix and stuffing ourselves with brownies. I spent the day playing on my cousin’s new Switch while waiting for the rest of my family to come home, so we could have our traditional New Year's Day meal.

Not a typically auspicious start. Even my morning yoga session couldn’t outweigh a day of otherwise doing nothing. I did not study; I did not start training for a 5k; I did not do a cleanse or an elimination diet.

But that doesn’t mean my day wasn’t valuable. Although I was not being productive in the traditional sense, I was happy and at peace throughout the day’s passing. For me, 2018 was the year of the hustle. I went through major changes in my academic, family, and social life. I was constantly focused on what I could do for the future. Work more hours, so future me will have more savings. Spend more time in the studio, so future me will have a decent portfolio. Add more days to my workout routine, so future me will have the strength and aesthetic I crave. Everything was about better, faster, more. It was about optimizing, so not a millisecond that could go towards self-improvement would go to waste. On the surface, this sounds fine, and honestly ​is​ fine. Discipline is good, and without something to strive towards, life becomes meaningless.

The problem was that I took it to the point at which it became counterproductive. If I went to bed ten minutes too late, I stayed awake for an hour wracked with anxiety over how my performance the next day would suffer. If I fell ill, rather than restructuring my schedule to accommodate, I cursed myself for having the audacity of being in a flesh body that I had to take care of. I made long, detailed to-do lists that were never completed. I tried to read the news, while practicing drawing from references, while scanning documents, while listening for self-improvement tips from a podcast. I became a recluse, never venturing into the world beyond my room, except to go to classes and the studio.

When I emerged, I realized that I no longer had the ability to interact with others. I couldn’t make conversation or stay engaged, and I didn’t know how to show affection. At the same time, I was terrified of being alone with my thoughts. I constantly had three - no, five - no, more - things to do at once, all with a YouTube video playing in the background. I couldn’t engage in hobbies; after only a few minutes trying to focus on one task, my mind would drift to all the other things I could or should have been doing. I couldn’t even watch a movie without checking my email or organizing files. I needed constant distraction.

I was exhausted. I was tired of being stressed by all the things I had to do all the time. I was tired of trying to do everything at once and accomplishing nothing. I was tired of not being able to do anything without thinking about how I could optimize the moment, or how soon it would be over, or how much time I had left until the next thing began.

When I woke up late that afternoon, I felt refreshed. The series of downward-dogs and forward folds I did probably weren’t building any muscle, but I appreciated the stretch and the soothing voice of the yoga instructor from my phone screen. When I was sitting with my father at the kitchen table, I fell into the comfortable rhythm of spooning meat and vegetables into a circle of flat dough and crimping the ends together, making dumplings to eat with our rice cake soup. I could have been searching for internships, but instead I lost myself in virtual temple ruins while birds chirped in the distance and a gentle breeze set grass swaying.

So was my New Year’s a waste? Perhaps. But did I enjoy it? Yes. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.

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