Ah, another New Year.
Isn’t it lovely?
So fresh and so new?
Mmmm, yes I think I’ll just take a minute to let it sink in.
That was nice.
I don’t know about you, Chronic Readers, but I was bombarded today by a whole lot of resolutions- people’s personal resolutions on their Facebook pages; articles about the most important resolutions to make all over the Internet and the newspaper; plus talking heads on TV telling me that the way to really start the new year right is with a juice cleanse.
It’s all kind of polluting that New-Year-fresh-smell with just a bit of a stink- the stink of “should.”
We all should start exercising.
We all should stop eating sugar (don’t even think about it either!).
We all should update our wardrobes.
We all should earn more and save more (with the exception of that new wardrobe, of course!).
We all should, should, shouldy-should, should.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to knock resolutions. Sometimes they can be really helpful to plot the direction for one’s year. All of the above suggestions are of varying degrees of importance.
I just think maybe we’re going about it a bit wrong.
The way the resolution cycle goes now is something like this:
Goal of epic proportions made –> unreasonable limits placed on oneself –> said limits are only manageable for a short period of time –> period of time limits being manageable feels unbearable –> resentment –> frustration –> Some form of giving up.
This last bit tends to happen right around mid-to-late January. But don’t fret, because February brings Valentine’s Day, and by that time, no one cares about resolutions any more.
See what I mean?
It’s not the best system.
I am absolutely guilty of it. Every year, I start a new journal, and on January 1, I used to write a whole list of all the things I was going to change about myself and my life. Of course, it was all quite grandiose, and so it never worked out the way I planned. Even if I didn’t have chronic illness annoyingly throwing me off my game as much as it does, the lists I created would have been unattainable.
Yet, it feels so good to write those lists!
Isn’t it odd? That strangely comforting and determined feeling that comes with making a list of resolutions?
Personally, I feel like it’s an expression of control. As in, “My life has gotten completely out of my control, and so I hereby wrangle it with a list!”
Not just any list, mind you, but a list of RESOLUTION.
It doesn’t last though, this excitement and dedication. At least not usually.
That’s kind of depressing, reading back.
Totes magotes, not my intention.
The point is, my resolution this year is to free myself from resolutions. I resolve to not give in to the impulse to create unrealistic expectations for myself. I resolve instead to live firmly in reality and to make it as pleasant a place to inhabit as possible.
This is really important when you have a Chronic Illness.
For example, becoming an exercise maven has been on my New Year’s Resolution wish list for, well, a bazillion years. I am quite certain that is not an exaggeration.
Each year I told myself, “This is the year that I will run a marathon!” and so I inevitably set myself up for failure and disappointment. Not necessarily because of the basic fact that I didn’t run a marathon, but rather because, with that thought in mind, I tended to overwork myself, burn out quickly, and then crumple into self-pity and doubt all before I even remembered to start writing the correct year on my journal entries. I didn’t think, “Oh I should figure out how to walk for a bit of distance before I run full out.” Which is a really important thing to think because it is incredibly unsafe to overestimate your ability and find yourself ripping the emergency shut off cord as you go tumbling backwards off the treadmill. #TrueStory
Spoiler Alert: Change, real change, change that separates the you that you were from the you that you will be, takes time. It takes baby steps. It takes year-long commitment.
Which is really quite irksome if you ask me, but it’s true.
Know what else is kind of irksome? Growing up a bit and realizing pretty basic stuff like this and then kicking yourself for not internalizing it sooner. #NowYouTellMe
So Chronic Readers, my New Year’s wish for you is that you are patient and kind to yourselves. Make resolutions, yes, but make sure they are resolutions that work for you, and not against you. It can be hard to tell the difference some times.
As for me, if anything, I am resolute in my desire to love more this year. I’m starting with my dog, who I took on not one but two walks today- she has since collapsed in a puddle of exhaustion and, I’m sure, surprise. I’m off to join her.
Happy New Year!