Empty resolutions


My New Year’s journal page from 2022, using lyrics from Taylor Swift’s “22”.

For each year in my existing memory, I’ve spent New Year’s Eve at my grandparent’s house watching the ball drop. And every time it does, it feels like something is supposed to change, like an invisible switch should’ve flipped somewhere that sparked a timezone-wide phenomenon of champagne and celebratory embraces.

But under the glitter and confetti remains the fact that other than the date, nothing really changes after the countdown. It’s no different from me counting down the last twelve seconds between any other two days. Time never stops, and while that terrifies me, at least I know it’ll always be the same. The seemingly endless last few minutes spent in class are equivalent to the minutes that pass me by while hitting snooze on my alarm clock.

For many, the most valuable part of the new year is making resolutions. ‘New year, new me’ is drilled deep into my brain, yet I feel no different on Jan. 1 than I did the day before. It almost leaves a negative impact on me because the false hope that the new year will completely fix my mindset fails me time and time again. Every January, I feel ashamed that I’m not suddenly a whole new person whose faults have been cured by self-set goals.

‘New year, new me’ is drilled deep into my brain, yet I feel no different on Jan. 1 than I did the day before.

So, while I try to make resolutions and set goals for myself, I know I need to be realistic; but as I write a list of things I need to do better, the fact that there is no automatic productivity boost coming escapes my mind. I say I’ll try to journal more or read a certain number of books without taking the steps to get there. I tend to forget that the reason I haven’t been working on ‘self-improvement’ in the first place is that my days are already overflowing with mentally-draining activities.

Yet, year after year, I yearn for change. I pretend my resolutions will fulfill themselves and somehow still feel a sense of disappointment when they don’t. 

The week after this past Christmas was dreadful. Time didn’t feel real as the holiday that I’d been anticipating since November came and went. I felt immensely unprepared as New Year’s inched closer and closer. I wasted all my days trying to figure out where the time had gone. 

Meanwhile, I internalized the belief that I have to start the year perfectly, otherwise the whole year will be a miserable mess. The contrast between my energy-less days and my mental list of what I needed to accomplish clashed and formed chaotic nights of guilt and stress.

Consequently, I’ve put New Year’s on hold. It may just be an excuse for the fact that I don’t want all of 2023 to be like it’s been so far, or that I don’t want things to change, but regardless, time’s not going to stop even if I’m left behind. The start of this year isn’t going to be perfect, and I’m beginning to accept that.