Or, rather, I have been EXACTLY myself.
I have been the same old me (with a bonus cough and recurring dizziness).
While curled up under a blanket and sipping hot mint tea, I have pondered this accepted belief that a new year is supposed to usher in an era of self-improvement. I have read numerous blog posts in which people outline their plans to become stronger, healthier, more organized, more interesting, less weighty.
Frankly, I have found myself annoyed by them all. I feel like I'm reading dispatches from an island where women are trapped and indoctrinated in the religion of Women's Service Magazine Bull Shit.
I have not read one thing that doesn't sound like it came from a brainstorming session for the January issue of MarieClaireGlamourFamilyCircleRedbookRealSimple.
I wish I could be more supportive of this type of self-improvement, but I'm not. I know women are looking for something, seeking ways to feel better, and that's great. But these sorts of goals seem built to make women feel badly about themselves. Period. And they also seem built to fail.
|Yes, she sure does look like an enormous cow here.|
There was a lot of talk about 2013 being THE YEAR that things get better. That talk was all about self-preservation. I had to find some way to get through the end of 2012.
Now 2013 is here.
But, alas, I have been sick for almost the entirety of the year so far and I feel like I've done nothing to improve myself or my life. In fact, I have engaged in behavior that is decidedly EXACTLY what I was doing in years past. I'm sitting here thinking, "Did you not learn your lesson about this?"
I recently read this article on NPR and the title spoke to me: You Can't See It But You'll Be a Different Person in 10 Years.
There's nothing like the beginning of a new year to make you look back. Plus, this year I'm turning 40. So when I saw the title of that article, I thought about who I was the year I turned 30.
At the beginning of that year, I still lived in Louisiana and I was a reporter at a newspaper. Remember newspapers?
I was married. I had a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old.
I wonder if, in January of 2003, I had any idea that by the summer I'd be moving to a new city for a new job. I don't think I did.
I couldn't see it, but I would be a different person in ten years.
(Also, my father-in-law said to me that the 30s were the hardest years, and - damn - was he ever right about that.)
With hindsight, it is easy to see that I have changed in a lot of ways over ten years. I'm still basically me with the same smart ass personality, but I've found reserves of strength that I didn't know I had. I've also adopted all sorts of ways to protect myself that might not be all that beneficial in the long run. I recognize my tendency to keep people at arm's length. I question things I accepted easily ten years ago. I no longer believe certain things I used to believe and I don't think there's any way to go back. It's like those wood cut-outs that seem like random shapes and then you realize the space in between reads "Jesus." You can't unsee it.
(Actually, my journey is probably more like the opposite of that.)
Anyway, I wonder what lies ahead in 2013. I do feel that I have come to the end of an era. But I refuse to set myself up for a lot of women's magazine bull shit. I refuse to say I'm going to lose 10 pounds and run a marathon. I refuse to say I'm going to organize the garage. I refuse to say I'm going to write a novel or a screenplay. I refuse to say I'm going vegan or giving up booze.
If I was going to make a new year's resolution, it would simply be this: I'm going to give myself a break from setting up expectations and being disappointed in myself.
I think you should give yourself one, too.