Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year, More Me

New year, more me

Anyone that knows me well will be aware of the fact I am not a huge fan of celebrating the New Year; goodbyes are hard enough, saying goodbye to a whole year of your life in one night? Cue the emotional breakdown. 

However, I can't argue that the beginning of a new year is a perfect time for some reflection and refocus. But, all this "New year, New Me" talk just isn't cutting it for me. Why do you need to create a new version of you? How about New Year, same old me, with a little bit more me?

2016 was kind of a conflicting year for me. I did something I have always dreamed about doing and it felt damn good. But sometimes it also made me feel damn guilty. Social media was telling me that most women my age were getting engaged, buying their first house or receiving well-deserved promotions at work. And Me? I'd just brought myself a one-way ticket to Asia, in the middle of a progressing career, taking all my life savings with me. Of course, this feeling of guilt didn't last long whilst I was trapezing around the world until it was time to face "reality" again...

It was during the lull between Christmas and New Year when posts of Christmas trees and mulled wine began to dwindle, to be rapidly replaced with the obligatory "New Year, New Me" statuses that this similar feeling of guilt came back. Instagram was a minefield of avocado on toast and Facebook an explosion of workout videos. Whilst this caused me to instinctively formulate my own New Year resolutions in my head, I was also aware that I hadn't done a single thing remotely resembling exercise for weeks because I hate it, nor had I stopped binging on cheese and chocolate for breakfast, because honestly, I've actually quite enjoyed the luxury. It finally clicked and I realised two things; 1. Intense exercise is the work of the devil and 2. I often feel this unnecessary guilt for doing things I enjoy. So what's with all this guilt, just because I'm not living like everyone else?

The real problem is society. It has a very subtle, but extremely successful, knack of inducing social pressures, self-doubt and guilt without us really noticing it, until January the 1st rolls around and we're all promising ourselves that this will be the year that we finally cut out gluten for good, or commit to that gym membership we brought four years ago. Oh, and we must try to be more sociable, even though hangovers are the thing of nightmares and you certainly don't have the stamina for dancing on tables in sweaty nightclubs until 5am anymore. When in fact we wouldn't enjoy doing any of those things and, let's be honest with ourselves, who actually sticks to their New Year resolutions for longer than four weeks? I certainly never have.

Is it possible for 2017 to be a year where resolutions are fulfilling instead of fruitless? Unless you fancy running from society and roughing it in Alaska like Emile Hirsch in 'Into The Wild', I have an idea...

Take the time out to forget what everyone else in your life is doing, and work out what actually makes you happy. Some people thrive in a gym, others may be more inclined to gentler exercise, such as yoga. If you want to diet, decide for yourself if cutting out sugars, or carbs works for your body. If the diet is making you irritable and somewhat like a demon, forget it and try something else. If people tell say you're doing it wrong, forget them too, no one knows your own body and mind more than you do. Once you start disregarding social pressures, rules and structure you'll find that the things that make you truly happy are more possible and more rewarding. Create New Year resolutions that put more into your life, instead of taking things out. Do more of the simpler things that make you feel good, rather than focusing on what everyone else is doing. Work harder at being true to yourself, instead of forcing New Year resolutions that you know you won't enjoy. Instead of pretending I wear lycra and go to the gym twice a day, I will encourage myself to go for long walks in the countryside. Instead of cutting out foods that make me happy, I will make more time to cook for my friends and family, something I have always enjoyed doing. How much more uplifting would it be to accomplish something you enjoy, rather than trying to endure something you don't?

I have only one New Year's resolution for 2017, and that’s to do more of what I enjoy. There will be no “new me”, just a whole lot more of who I already am.

What will you be focusing on in 2017?

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