On the first of January, 2016, I entered a competition on a writing website called Movellas. It was about writing New Year’s Resolutions, and I eventually won it for the seven that I had listed out. I’d thought about them carefully; thought about myself and who I wanted to be for 2016, for the rest of my life, and I wrote them down.
Here’s how that went, and how I got on.
Resolution #1: To be brave
I am not brave, nor have I ever been. I worry over the smallest of matters, and over think everything that comes my way. I’m afraid to tell my parents of a single Christmas gift I receive from a friend because it’s expensive, because they’ll ask why he got it for me, because it’ll lead to questions. I want to be brave in 2016. I don’t want to fear the unknown, and cry over issues that I can’t change. I want to be able to stand before someone, tell them how I feel, I want to be able to rest my head on my friends’ shoulders without worrying what they’ll do. I just want to stand up for something, and mean it, and not be afraid.
I don’t want to fear the world anymore.
How it went:
I haven’t cried much in 2016. I’m not saying that crying means a person is weak, I’m saying that when I’m afraid, I cry. I’m not as brave as I’d like to be, I avoid politics and controversial conversations, as well as walking at night and talking to strangers in bars – but I don’t think I ever meant that I wanted to be brave in that sort of way.
I don’t necessarily fear the world, but I can’t say I’m best friends with it. Even so, I started university, I met new people and I’m beginning to stand up for what I want. That’s as good a start as any.
Resolution #2: To be happy
I am a notoriously unhappy person.
Yes, I can plaster a smile on my face, and have fun – but that’s no longer enough for me. I want to feel happiness in my gut; I want to wake up in the morning not dreading the day; I want to look out the window and not be annoyed by the state of my town and my life, but accept it – move to change it.
I really just want to be happy. I want to be okay again. I want to feel like I did when I was a child; blissfully unaware. I want to feel the way I do when I’ve read something beautiful all the time.
How it went:
When out drinking, my friends and I have a saying about going to the toilet – once you’ve done it, you’ve broken the seal. There’s no going back. That’s what this is like – I’m never going to be blissfully unaware, with childlike innocence, being able to ignore what’s happening in the world. I’ve broken the seal on what’s happening out there, and I can’t undo that.
But I can find happiness in other places.
I realise, looking back on where I was in January of 2016, that my unhappiness was due to my hatred of the courses I was taking, the company I kept, and that I hadn’t realised the magic of self-love. Since then, I’ve taken up a new course in a new place, I’ve ditched the person (or people) who made me feel bad, and I’ve found that if you keep telling yourself that you’re cute, you’re smart, you’re fun – eventually, you will be.
Resolution #3: To keep my friends
In 2015, I lost and gained my friends. Some just disappeared from my life for extended periods of time, some just went all together. Others, I had to learn to like and then love, and one or two I can’t say I completely get along with. But I want them to stay around, all the same. I want to keep the people I care about, and I don’t want to have to face losing them again.
I entered the new year with Alex, with the girl who used to be my best friend, and now could still be as such – if I weren’t afraid of having them now. I lost her for four months last year. I want her for all twelve this year.
In recent months I made a fantastically amazing new friend named Callum. I don’t really know what I’d do if I lost him. I can’t imagine my life without him, and so, in 2016, I want to put effort into keeping these people in my life. I don’t want to be facing my future without them.
How it went:
I laughed when I saw that this was one of my resolutions, because how it turned out was so unpredictable to me at that time. There’s a truth you have to face when leaving a city and moving to a new one: you’re going to lose contact with people you thought you loved. And here’s another one: sometimes, you’re not going to mind.
I kept Alex, and I still have her, and I think all twelve months with her have been a dysfunctional rollercoaster that could really do with some maintenance – but it’s been good. It’s been fun. It’s been sitting in her garden at two AM in November as she cries, but it’s also been sword fighting with rolls of wrapping paper as we make our way down the road.
And Callum – well, I can see my life perfectly without him, because that’s simply what it is for me now. It’s been this way for longer than I knew him for, and honestly – it relates back to my choice to be happy. Sometimes, there are people you are blinded by; by your love for them, by their love for you, by the way you both try so hard to keep the friendship together – but ultimately, a friendship isn’t real unless you can see them in the dark and still be happy with what you find.
My happiness comes first. Always. And sometimes, that just means facing a future without the people you think you need, and figuring out you’re happier without them.
Resolution #4: To commit to one thing every day
I feel like I’m wasting my days away, in bed, in the house, in my pyjamas. I’m sick of it.
Even if that one thing is just remembering to empty the dishwasher or take out the recycling, I want to commit to it. I want to commit to doing my revision and homework every day. I want to just have one thing that I will commit to – a different thing every day; something that just has to be done.
Today, I want to be dressed.
Sometimes it’s just really difficult to face being a functioning person, but I want to try it. I want to be able to get dressed because then I’ll feel like I’m ready for the day. I want to then be able to say, that when I’m dressed, I could go out if I wanted to. I could walk up the road and see my friend, I could go out and buy ice cream, I could sit in the car if my parents elected to go somewhere.
I want to be dressed.
I want to commit to something every day. Even if it’s another person.
How it went:
Honestly, I still have days like this. I still have days where facing the sunlight is too much for me, and I just don’t leave my room until absolutely necessary. These are what I call the ‘bad days’, and the beginning of this year was full of them. As I’ve gotten older, and moved away, I’ve found that the good days tend to outweigh the bad.
I still commit to one thing a day, though. As often as I can. It works, truly it works. Some days, it’s still just getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating a real meal, cleaning my plates, attending a lecture. Other days, it’s going to a body combat class, it’s walking across town, it’s meeting a friend, it’s doing my school work.
I commit to one thing a day, every day – and eventually, I get things done.
Resolution #5: To try
I think this resolution speaks for itself, but it’s been so long since I really have tried. It’s been a long time since I’ve put effort into people, into my work, into myself. I know I have it in me.
How it went:
Sometimes, it’s just not worth trying.
Other times, it really is.
Maybe in 2017 I’ll resolve to figure out which is which so I don’t pour my effort into the wrong thing.
Even so: I really did have it in me.
Resolution #6: To pass my A-levels
My other resolutions are based a lot on me changing as a person; on my development. But this one is still important, it’s something that people want for me, and it’s something I want for myself. Even if I don’t enjoy the courses I’m studying, I want to be able to say that I’ve passed. I want universities to accept me, even if I haven’t received a single response from them yet. I want them to want me to study with them – I want to succeed.
How it went:
I passed. Mostly. Okay – I got a D in one course but I didn’t like that one anyway. I got into my first choice university. I did what I wanted to do.
Resolution #7: To be kind
This is a goal of mine every day. It has been for as long as I can remember.
Recently, a friend told me that kindness comes naturally to good people. He said that just because someone has the capacity to be kind if they really, really try, doesn’t make them a good person. Kindness has always come naturally to me, I think. I’ve never wanted to harm others, and I’ve always tried to be empathetic, compassionate, caring.
I am going to continue to try to be, anyway, whether I made it a resolution or not. The only difference about this, is that I want to also be kind to myself.
I want to acknowledge how I look, and not just briefly with a grimace. I want to realise that my eating habits aren’t healthy, and be kind to my body by changing them. I want to care about myself, and be kind to the body I’ve been given as well as the mental facilities I’ve been blessed with. I want to let myself have something I want – I want to hug people and stop distancing myself from others. I want to be able to do what’s best for me, instead of what’s best for others. I know that I have always been the person who will set myself on fire to keep others warm – this year, I want to learn how to make kindling out of firewood instead of my body.
How it went:
In 2017 I plan to be kind.
In 2018, 19, 20, 21 I plan to be kind. Kindness is essential, detrimental, and at the heart of who we are and who we need to be. And sometimes it does involve letting yourself burn for others – sometimes it really does come down to facing the flu and frostbite and sitting bare foot outside in the middle of the night because your friend needs you, sometimes it really is going out of your way to help someone else because they need you.
Sometimes it involves turning off your phone (something I have been doing more and more often recently) and being kind to yourself. Sometimes, it’s marathoning a TV show and eating your favourite food because you’ve had a bad day, and sometimes it’s remembering to moisturise because your skin is drier than the Sahara.
I don’t know whether kind people are good people, or if good people are kind – but I know that we all have the capacity, no matter who we are, to be kind, to reach out, to love other people.
I think I’ve made a good attempt this year, but in 2017 I want to do better.
My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions:
1: To be brave
2: To be happy
3: To be patient
4: To commit to one thing every day
5: To try
6: To pass my first year of university
7: To be kind