It’s the eighth day in January and my New Year’s resolution hasn’t been broken yet… because I didn’t make one. My mother did, though, and when she takes me out for lunch she dances around the menu because she can’t have this and isn’t allowed that. She’s deep in the throes of “New Year, New Me”, having promised herself that she’d cut down on sugar and finally get around to hanging the canvas I bought her for Christmas three years ago.
She’s the only person I know that’s got one, though, and I wonder whether we’ve given up on the idea of giving things up to make ourselves “better”.
Has it finally sunk in that these vows made, half cut, at 11.57pm on the 31st of December are almost always made to be broken as we begin to emerge from our hangover at 3pm the next day craving everything we said we wouldn’t have again?
Let’s be honest, we all know they’ll never stick, so much so that January 12th is known as “quitter’s day”, recognised as the time people are most likely to have abandoned the life-altering promises they made not even a fortnight before. And for years we’ve been bombarded with every think piece under the sun about how it’s time to ditch the idea altogether, that the idea of forbidding certain “bad” things in our lives can have a toxic effect not just on our bodies, but our mental states, too.
But the new trend on social media seems to embrace this anti-resolution, challenging the idea of “bettering” ourselves – which is code for being “healthier” – which is too-often code for being “thinner” with more positive, joyful wishes for themselves the new year.
Non-profit @allwomxnproject shared alternative resolutions that encouraged learning and loving. Viral illustrator @bymariaandrew’s resolutions for 2019 looked like more kissing, more dancing and more lemon-heavy recipes. @theguerrillafeminist vowed to let her heart and guts guide her and climb the mountains in her chest – no matter how fearful.
Self-improvement is society’s hobby, and it will be hard to ever escape that. Just look at the success of shows like Queer Eye and Netflix’s newest self-help sensation, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. We LOVE watching people make themselves into something better, something more – and I have no problem with that. I’m always trying to find ways to broaden who I am. But we need to re-centre ourselves in this pursuit and make it about building good habits rather than taking away our usual “bad” habits. We can (and should) do this in small but positive steps, not through a complete overhaul on the first day of the year.
So, I’m not saying we should ditch the New Year’s resolution altogether, nor scold anyone that continues to participate in it. Let’s just – and make this our mantra for everything we do – do it with more kindness, to ourselves and the world around us.
The only thing we should be “banning” ourselves from this year is self-negativity. And texting ex’s after more than two glasses of wine.
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