New year, new me?
No, not at all. New year, same old broken me. And that’s OK.
You’ll see a lot of “new year, new me” posts on Facebook and such from people determined to make themselves better in 2020. That’s not a bad thing.
But it’s a bit self-deceiving.
We can’t completely change who we are. Oh, I’ve seen folks reinvent themselves, but they’re still the same person.
Maybe they’re trying to be something they’re not, or maybe they’ve found a way to extract some long-dormant part of their being. People often hold back certain parts of themselves because they don’t want the world to see that side of them, but a big event or a new relationship might trip an internal wire, and suddenly they appear to be a different person.
That happened to me several years ago. I got in a bad car wreck that almost killed me and I spent 18 days in the hospital. That trauma flipped a switch inside me – a switch that had always been there – and I suddenly stopped caring about a lot of trivial things.
In some instances, unfortunately, disinterest has devolved into apathy, which in turn feeds my depression. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
I should resolve to be a less apathetic man, but I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. Several years ago, at my in-laws’ house, we were going around announcing our resolutions for the coming year, and when it came my turn, I said I didn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.
This made people very upset for some reason.
If making resolutions helps you, go for it. One reason I don’t bother is because I know how unlikely I am to keep them. I don’t try and fool myself.
Everything feels the same to me on Jan. 1 as it does on Dec. 31. A new year is just another number, just one more tick on my mortality’s clock. Life is one big countdown from the day you’re born, except you don’t know exactly when the ball will drop.
I find it’s better – for me, anyway – to make little resolutions every day. It might be something as small as checking off everything on my to-do list, or it might be as big as ignoring the giant knot of anxiety in my stomach so I can make it to bedtime.
I try to treat people kindly and fairly, and I try to help where I can. I screw up plenty in those areas, believe me. Sometimes I’m selfish, and sometimes I take advantage of a friend’s generosity.
That makes me feel rotten, and so I resolve to do better next time. And that’s what life is about, isn’t it? Messing up, promising ourselves we’ll do better, and maybe we succeed, maybe we don’t.
But we keep trying. If I had to make a resolution, I suppose that would be it: Keep trying. So many times I’ve wanted to give up, and I’m glad I didn’t.
I traveled a rocky path in 2019, with plenty of cuts and bruises to show for it. If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other each day, though, perhaps a year from now things really will feel different.