New Year, Same Old Me
And just like that, it's January. This time of year is a funny one - it's quiet and reflective and celebratory and exciting and filled with promise and pressure all at once. Over the last few days, you'll undoubtedly have been deluged with 'New Year, New You' encouragement to make changes in your life, to make this the year that you're the shiniest you can be. Across social media and in the news you'll have seen advice on how you should round off your sharp edges, exercise more, make more of an impact, or, in the case of UK Bride's staggeringly ill-conceived and incredibly damaging hashtag that has sent ripples of fury around the wedding industry, 'lose weight and gain a husband' (!).
The question is... why should you? Why does the calendar flipping into January mean you somehow have to regenerate into a different person, or 'better' version of yourself? The whole 'new year, new you' thing doesn't sit well with me, because 12 short months is no time at all in the grand scheme of things. We don't get a year's run at life and a clean slate with each jewel-burst of New Year's Eve fireworks, and looking at January 1st as a chance to be better, thinner, healthier, happier, wiser or richer does nothing but cast the last year's worth of spectacular living you've been doing in a suddenly more negative, dimmer light.
I'm not saying you should let your brain or your soul grow stagnant, nor that you shouldn't challenge yourself to try new things this year - it's so important never to stop learning, that's how we grow as humans. But try to view this new year as a chance to add new layers of colour and texture to your canvas, rather than shedding the old you as the clock strikes 00.01 on January 1st, like some anxiety-afflicted snake shrugging off its skin.
What Do You Want To Keep?
Don't think about what you want to change - instead, think about what you want to keep. Because frankly, you're wonderful. Yes. You. And you know what? I'm wonderful too. It's taken me a long old while to come to this realisation (and don't get me wrong, there are still many many times when I feel less than, when the anxiety gremlins take over and I want to cower under my duvet eating chocolate biscuits), but there's a fair bit of the current me that I rather like, and that won't be going anywhere, no matter how many new years there may be.
Foundations To Strengthen
So here are some of my Jen-ish foundations - elements of myself that I plan to hold true over the coming year, and develop and grow as much as I can through the things I choose to read, the actions I choose to take and the company I choose to keep.
- I'll have lived my life right if my tombstone reads 'she was a good friend'.
- The importance of silliness cannot be overstated. Laughter is more than the best medicine, it's some kind of magical elixir. I'm not talking dainty giggles either - surround me with cacklers, roarers, hooters and shriekers.
- Time well spent is more valuable than having money to spend.
- I truly believe that words are a gift and a superpower. Wielded with grace and creativity they can bring strength, solace, inspiration and companionship. I'm pledging to use them wisely and kindly in all areas of my life, not just my work. Reaching out to someone in need and saying something is always better than silence for fear of saying the wrong thing.
How do you feel about the start of a new year? I'd love to hear some of your own foundations and the ways you plan to strengthen them. Most of all, whatever you do or don't do, I wish you a 2019 filled with warmth and wonder.