My New Year’s Resolutions this year are a blank page. I ditched the collaged vision boards filled with carefully selected words like “confidence” or “happiness” that pair with imagery of clean-cut, minimalist apartments, covers of Vogue, and fruits and vegetables. I avoided the YouTube loopholes of “2022 workout challenges.” I did not create a list of all my long and short-term goals, write down all the ways to replace “bad habits” with “good ones,” or jump straight into a new project. Basically, I chose not to write down everything I didn’t have or to not re-write every part of myself I don’t like. It took more willpower to not make resolutions this year than to actually make them. If a resolution is defined as a promise to do or not do something, my promise to myself was to not fall under the control of the echoing little voice in my brain that doesn’t know any better than what she is told.
At the start of every year, it has become a tradition to tear ourselves apart and to reconstruct a version of ourselves that is newer, shiner, and supposedly better than the last, as if we were the latest iPhone. Society conditions us to want more and shows us how we can achieve this. Polished Instagram propaganda and posts freezing only the highlight reels of people’s lives are thrown in our faces. Moreover, in the age of TikTok trends and Vloggers, it has never have been easier to share morning routines, the best Amazon products for minimalist living, yoga challenges, and how to journal for manifesting everything you want in 2022. We are shown a curated Pinterest board of what our lives are supposed to look like. We don’t see as much of the failure, the low-lights, or even simply the ordinary.
As the years roll on, each one bringing along the unexpected, I realize that I don’t have control over the good or the bad. In past years I’ve prepared to fight off the seasons with a bladed pen and routines so stringent I knew exactly what I should be doing for every hour of the day. I told myself I would be the 5 a.m.girl who wakes up and enters into a deep meditation, springs into a three-mile run and processes all the internal jumble tangled in her thoughts in a journal before classes. I was the 5 a.m.girl for a while. I would write down my day hour to hour before bed, had a solidified health regimen, and planned out every book I wanted to read in a year, and then read them and did everything else on the list. Yet, no matter how far I pushed the limit, I felt nothing I did could satiate the little voice who always wanted more. I was always left disappointed.
Moreover, there was a deeper layer of frustration in the fact that I could not plan for everything. There was no way of predicting the chance encounters with friends that turn into hour-long conversations where I should have been getting ahead on work or predicting a late night preventing me from waking up before the sun and getting eight hours of sleep. Making it so that if something on my list of resolutions didn’t get done in a day I felt miserable.
The pandemic was certainly one of those situations you couldn’t prepare for. In 2020, my research plans abroad crumbled, early mornings felt pointless if I could not go out for a morning walk, and there were much greater things to care for in this world than making sure I had checked every single box on my to-do list. The routines fell to pieces and I had no choice but to put everything on pause.
The past two years have slowed me down, but they have done so in the best way possible. I was forced into a position of rest. I didn’t have much to do on any given day which allowed me to be flexible and creative with my time at home and simply sit with my own presence.
I would wake up in the mornings simply to stand by the window to watch the morning sun, and take in a few deep breaths. I went about my days with more ease. No more rushing from one activity to the next. I floated as my body wished to move through each day. My tongue savored the bitterness of coffee in the morning as my eyes savored every word in the books I consumed. I stared into space without feeling any guilt, only curiosity for myself. I’d examine passing thoughts and think about the things I wanted to write about or visions I had for the future with the patience they deserve. I learned to not grasp desperately at the wants, but to question why they appear and explore their possibilities.
Most importantly I learned compassion. We don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit for all the things we do in a year. I felt like I needed to show up every day better than the last for society—to prove that I can be the machine. However, gears stop turning, and metal rusts, and that is okay. I appreciate the way imperfections and surprise mishaps distort my perception of the days in ways that cause me to recalculate and approach life differently. Taking in each moment, each hour without haste. I am kinder to myself for it. I sit with what I have instead of constantly working towards the next best thing. Who I am in the present is my very best.
Making resolutions is setting up expectations you can’t prepare yourself for. So if I were to write something of a resolution down it would be to have gratitude and show myself love for all the things I already do. To treat my thoughts with kindness, to invite them into my life, and have conversations. To not speed date through my passions and hobbies. This year is about being ever-present.