I started regretting this post as soon as I started writing it—or, letting it gestate in my brain, I suppose. As a matter of principle, I sort of hate New Years resolutions. I have never looked back on a year in, say, November and thought to myself, "Thank god I committed back in January to waking up 15 minutes earlier everyday and renewing my yoga practice. That has really gone well for me all these eleven months."
I could make a list a mile long of things I could do to improve my life, starting today. It would include a whole range of things from deleting my Seamless account to building up my credit score. I would love to "invest in more classic pieces" and start taking the stairs at work. These are all good ideas, and they all trigger my gag reflex as soon as I see them written out.
However. And there's a big however here. I don't want to give up on self-improvement. I don't want to be smug about all the possibilities that a fresh calendar year signifies. In fact, in the wake of 2014, I am more determined to take ownership of myself and my life than I have ever been before. Interestingly enough, this awakened sense of self didn't even hit me until about September. I spent the fall dealing, pursuing, deciding—my life very quickly became something different than it was just a few months before.
With such dynamic change so close behind me, I'm invigorated for the year to come, and therefore relinquishing my usual snobbery towards resolutions.
CLICK THROUGH FOR THE FOUR FACTORS THAT CHANGED MY 2014, AND WHAT I WANT IN 2015...
A SKIN CANCER SCARE: What started as a casual visit to the dermatologist to quell my adult acne once and for all ended in having a very minor Melanoma and something called a dysplastic nevus (a potentially pre-cancerous mole) carved out of my back by a surgical oncologist. I'm fine, clearly, but the experience was jarring. I've been blessed to be in great health all my life. I have never broken a bone (knock on wood), have no allergies, no chronic conditions and aside from having my wisdom teeth removed at 19, this is my only surgery. I am positive that so many of you out there have experienced so much worse than this. But I bet we can all agree that when a health issue arrises that is serious (relative to what you consider normal) it causes you to snap into focus a bit. My friends, I can offer only this advice: Go forth to your dermatologist as soon as possible and get your skin checked out. Just go.
ASKING FOR A RAISE: I've been living in New York for nearly five years. The first year I was here, I had basically no income. When I did get a job, it was entry level, and I had the rent price to match. Such is life in New York that your rent will keep going up with no regard for your personal journey and professional progress. I maintained the exact same salary through two jobs and three years, while hopping neighborhoods and feeling the strain of ever-increasing expenses. When I finally buckled down, ponied up and asked for a raise this fall, I can't even express to you the tidal wave of pride, accomplishment and relief that washed over my life (and my bank account). Bills paid, credit card on its way to balanced, groceries purchased and haircuts scheduled. I had no idea how good it would feel to be even moderately financially stable. (How adult of me, eh?)
TURNING 29: I'm only three months in, but I already love being 29. This seems like an age I could hang out in for a while, if only the universe would let me. I can't fully verbalize just why I feel so jazzed about 29, but I'm on a vibe I really like right now, that started around my birthday. I feel different. For once, I feel older in a good way. It helps that I happen to love odd numbers—which is how I justify my sweet spot for 25 and 27, too, but also feeling rather blasé about 26 and especially 28. (I explained more of my feelings about this in my numerology post a while back.) For further proof that 29 rocks, I defer to this excellent post from the The Cut on The Power of 29. But just in case you need a taste, I'll include this quote from said article, by Ann Friedman:
"It was around age 29 that the number of fucks I gave about other people’s opinions dipped to critically low levels. Which freed up all kinds of mental and emotional space for the stuff I was really passionate about."
TURNING DOWN A JOB: The specifics aren't really important here, but the act of turning down someone/something that wants you? That's huge, and it isn't easy. I considered my options from both a pragmatic and idealistic viewpoint. I flip-flopped. I consulted my brain trust of family and friends. In the end, I decided to stay put, and don't think I felt pangs of doubt and regret all along the way. In my professional life so far, choice hasn't really been an option. I was jobless, I applied for jobs, and when I got one, I took it because it was all I had. Luckily, these jobs have worked out pretty well for me, but you know what I mean. It felt so good to be wanted, and so empowering to have choice. To be honest, whether or not I chose correctly may yet reveal itself—but I feel good for now. All I can do is trust my gut, feel grateful and push forward.
And so, my only "resolution" this year, if we must call it that, is to take more and better care of myself. Care refers to more than just health of course—I'm resolving to care for my career, care for my hobbies and interests, care for my relationships, care for my bank account and care for my travel bug. The dream is big, but the actions can (and will, most likely) be small.
Some of this will happen by force—I have to have regular skin checks by order of my dermatologist and my mother will hound me until I find a dentist in the city. Some of it will be a little more tricky. Like...
How will I make sure I continue to progress in my career? Where will my next freelance jobs come from? What happens when I want a promotion, or a new job altogether? How will I handle turning 30 in October? How will I nurture my most important relationships to keep me emotionally and socially sane? Should I hire an accountant to do my taxes this year? Can I grow this blog into something more, six years in? How will I improve my credit score? Is this the year I'll pull off a jumpsuit? What would I do with an extra 15 minutes every morning? Can I save up enough money to travel somewhere exotic this year? Should I get back on Tinder?
I don't know the answers, clearly. But, I like this resolution (and it's many unravelling questions) because it allows for both internal and external factors to move it along.
My final thought is this: Make all the resolutions you want this month, but don't punish yourself if you feel like nothing is changing—despite your best efforts. Internal commitment is really important for enacting change—but so is the world outside your own skin. Things will happen to you. It's okay to feel lost and even ambivalent until they do, and to feel like resolutions just lead to guilt over promises unkept. I think it's enough just to stay open, aware and excited by the potential of all that could be.
DID YOU MAKE ANY RESOLUTIONS THIS YEAR?