I was never really one for resolutions. Not that I didn’t like the idea of them – lord knows I love some navel-gazing and goal setting (some would call it my raison d’etre) – but I’ve spent quite the time with myself and I’ve come to the cripplingly-obvious-to-everyone-but-me conclusion:
I’m bloody rubbish at keeping promises to myself.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of habits and hobbies I picked up in the past year:
- Learning Italian (abandoned at conjunctures)
- The ambient bread era (a sleeping but hopefully not complete dead Janet* lies in wait, only time will tell on the state of my beloved bread brethren)
- Gave up smoking, started smoking, gave up smoking again (a problematic fave I know I have to quit for good)
- Bought and begun practicing piano (My scales – passable, my ability to sight-read – nonexistent. My enthusiasm: dulled but still smoldering embers.)
- This site – all but abandoned if not for some bread and depression which I mean, if there was ever a way to earmark a period of time.
*concerned readers fret not, there has not in fact been “a murder” – Janet is my sourdough starter and low key one of the great romances of my life.
And here is the thing about resolutions. There’s this whole rhetoric of how they aren’t important, and how new year is arbitrary, it’s just another day, and how surviving is quite enough thank you. But it’s not quite as simple as a ticking clock and the aching dawn and the feeling of yet another moment like the last. It is bone achingly, mind alterinly difficult to keep track of anything and sometimes those silly markers, those daft rituals are the things that give us permission to just, pause. Look, I know not everyone needs a date in the calendar to align themselves but for me, I suppose New Year is the anchor and we’re the hook. Rather than being completely left adrift in a stream of consciousness, there’s the call to breathe. Like finding steady ground or a pole star. It’s a moment to take note, set your alignment, and plot the course.
I’m sure this is the most lukewarm of takes – but your goals aren’t stupid, and neither are resolutions.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’ll stick to any of the things I think I should do (drink more water, keep to a skincare routine, actually learn Italian) because I have more than an inkling of how they’ll turn our (contrary to popular belief coffee is not a substitute for water, I will inevitably fall asleep with a face full of make up and try as I might my brain is not built for languages.) But I also know that you can’t just sit back and wait for life to happen to you. Can you even really be the protagonist in the story of your own life if every moment is a reaction to something else? Being able to take stock can feel like a luxury just now – sometimes reacting is the only thing we can do when we’re caught in fight or flight. Mapping out your life and your plans and your dreams and all those big noisy beautiful things in your head can almost feel like you’re courting ill-fortune – you know what they say about best-laid plans, but it is about the mental space to acknowledge that those plans and dreams and ideas are important – that the quiet chaos of your mind is fucking magical and so are you.
Sometimes it can seem like it’s easier just to not say what you want out loud. Like sharing a birthday wish, acknowledging that wayward thought means it’s less likely to come true. Hopes and dreams remain that when left to lull in the in-between and your own passivity can rob you of your agency. Reaching those big beautiful messy goals is that heady mix of luck and hard work (a heavy dose of both) but more than anything you need to show up. We can make what we want smaller to avoid disappointment (and I’m aware I’m an itch away from an overused cliché about stars and moons and what have you) but making time for yourself and prioritizing your space is important. You don’t need to write a book (though if you do, fucking incredible) or drink 8 pints of water daily (sounds unrealistic but you do you) but for the big goals, writing them down helps you focus on how to get there. And if the goals are small, those tiny changes add to the whole. Know you’ve found your footing and even if we are all just fumbling along in the dark.
Let your resolutions be the harbinger of your dreams. Even if your dreams are to commit to a cleanse-tone-moisturise routine on a daily. They are yours and you’ll get there the same way we all do. One foot in front of the other.