Faye Rozario, Staff Writer
In the last few seconds of the year, imaginations and expectations run wild. During the seconds it takes for the clock to strike 12:00, we are all born anew. January 1st arrives to wipe away all our transgressions and failures, to bring us a new year. This period of time is one of society’s most famous conduits of optimism, manufacturing hope like a well-oiled machine. The air is electrified with the belief that a year without a happy ending is worth enduring if only to reach one that has a happy start.
Enter the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. Those wretched goals for the months ahead, so often recycled from years past. What a thrill it is to imagine the coming year as being a period devoid of imperfection and obstacles. Perhaps you’ll completely transform your physical appearance, achieving a model-like figure and blemish free skin. Maybe you’ll fulfill your commitment to reading a new book every week, in addition to your already packed course load and extracurricular activities. You could even land a job that fulfills all of your dream requirements, including your ideal salary, location, hours, and work environment.
What a thrill to imagine. But what does that imagination leave us with at the end of the year? Looking back at 2020, saying the past twelve months have been unexpected would be an understatement. It began with high hopes all around, the start of a new decade that would supposedly mean only prosperity and good fortune. Quickly, however, we were all confronted with a harsh and rather different reality. Murder hornets, wildfires, hurricanes, protests, the global pandemic, political instability, and a stock market crash spanning several countries.
Event after miserable event, the world was collectively blindsided, being continuously derailed from the desired path that had been set out at the beginning of the year. Countless plans and expectations were diverted by circumstances completely out of the control of the average person. It was inevitable, then, that faced with the catastrophic plot twist that was this past year, New Year’s resolutions made in the early moments of 2020 were destined to be swept aside, naive and forgotten.
Where does that leave us in regards to passive hope? Should we hold onto it, reaching again for the far-fetched and impossible, or resign ourselves to another year of disappointment? It is true that this kind of hope is a hallucinogen. It distorts our faculties of logic and reasoning, replacing them with outlandish predicted outcomes. In this way hope is distracting, but it is still necessary. Think about all the moments in the past year that were survived only by wishing for a better time to come. How many relationships, opportunities, vacations, and parties were forfeited in the spirit of believing that one day they would all be made up for. That being said, in order to enjoy the coming year to the fullest, hope must be constrained by certain reservations.
When creating your New Year’s resolutions this time around, opt for a more realistic approach. This doesn’t mean that you should completely resign yourself to an unsuccessful year; rather, it is a way of removing pressure from yourself when things potentially don’t turn out the way you expected them too. Making this mental change is as easy as giving yourself a reasonable alternative for your resolutions. Instead of petitioning yourself to go through a full body transformation, affirm instead that you will work towards a healthier lifestyle overall. In place of a specific academic or career threshold, aim to do your best in terms of effort and curbing procrastination. Because these revised goals manage to be both general and pointed, there is more room to achieve and work towards them.
If 2020 has left behind any valuable lesson, it is that things don’t always go according to plan. Give yourself a break this year, and move forward with simple resolutions not to be completely changed but rather just to be better. You will find that the more permission you give yourself to make mistakes and learn, the less you will worry about when those mistakes happen. So here’s to 2021 and all its New Year’s Reservations—all our realistic expectations with a side of a hope.