Setting the tone and the balancing act of a new year, new term, new… you?

by Ada Baggil

Source: Curiocity

Take it from someone who’s never celebrated Christmas: New Year’s is the real winter holiday. The world is painted white, though the temperature stays temperate; bright lights in gentle primary colours twinkle in the city as leftovers from the previous week; students settle into their visits home, for a moment able to shed all commitments; and—I assume—the stress of buying gifts that your loved ones may or may not like is over. 

But that’s not why New Year’s is such a big deal, is it? Hordes of people don’t stay out until midnight facing frigid flurries of snowflakes in eyes, hair, and up the nose just because they don’t have classes the next day, do they? Especially students! What could we possibly have to look forward to after Christmas besides squeezing in some relaxation before the relentless crush of school in another week or two?

Simple. It’s the same reason we love birthdays, weddings, graduations, employment changes, seasonal changes, weather changes—decidedly not climate change—moving out or in, new relationships, new projects, new hobbies, cultural/religious holidays, retirement, starting that side hustle you’ve been putting off, and above all (signifying the overarching theme of all of these), New Year’s Eve. 

We like change because it poses as an opportunity to start afresh. Armed with the wisdom and experience we’ve gained in the past year, we fall in love with the idea of a second chance ad infinitum. Humans are reborn in the rituals we’ve conceived of in order to implement new beginnings in our lives and to celebrate another milestone just passed. 

And nowhere is this better encapsulated than with New Year’s Eve. Students in particular, even the most bleary-eyed fourth-year languishing over grad school, can’t help being pulled into that tidal wave of optimism that comes with the notion of a Whole New Year! Even the word ‘new’ plays into the seductive hopefulness of 2024: it denotes as much unfamiliarity and difference as it does freshness and avant-gardeness, and it comes together rather snugly to produce an odd glow of anticipation—of aspiring and dreading—within this novelty. 

So, distinguished students of UofT, don’t hesitate to say goodbye to 2023. The time has come and gone. Take this moment to breathe deeply in invitation to all that the 2024 year could bring. Don’t think about that 62 on the last exam—it’s a whole new year, and you are well-prepared with the lessons you learned the hard way back in ‘23. Beginning a phase or chapter (read: winter term) seems more daunting than it proves to be.

Whether you plan to improve your academic life (procrastination is the eighth deadly sin, I think), pick up cooking, or just survive this upcoming term and year with a sanity more intact than you left it in December, the only way forward is to amend and adapt. The years pass from one to the next sooner than you can remember to actually work on your resolutions, so I suggest we take comfort in change rather than give in to the weight of all the questions only our future selves can answer.

Let yourself be excited for the opportunities, renewal, and growth proffered by New Year’s Month. The new is the unknown, I know, but that’s what makes it promising. 

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