When I was 14, shows like 90210 and The OC were all anyone talked about. And in those shows the people threw an elaborate party for ev-ery-thing. Birthdays. Christmas. Even the secondary holidays like St. Patrick’s day. Almost every weekend the girls would shop for a new dress, and the guys would help set up the lights and crystal chandeliers for the annual celebration of ______. But the biggest, most dramatic, most elegant and important party was always New Year’s.
Ryan and Marissa kiss on New Year’s (The OC, Season 1)
No matter the show, the New Year’s episode was full of characters who feared that if they were single and alone on New Year’s they’d spend the rest of the year the same way. But if they were happy and kissing someone, they’d be blessed with happiness all year. Of course, they would get into all sorts of trouble trying to have the best New Year’s experience because they believed what you did on New Year’s would lock the rest of the year. And I believed it too.
I remember spending my youth stuck in my own New Year’s tradition: sitting on the couch at midnight, alone, watching the ball drop in New York City. All the people on TV had large, genuine smiles, and dressed in their evening gowns and designer jackets they looked like the characters in the shows. The guys had their lives together and the girls were confident. I thought, if only I could start the new year like that, then I would be happy and successful.
Now that I’m older and can pick my own bedtime, surely I celebrated the new year like the stars! Well…actually, I spent the day at the mall and bought lotion I didn’t need because it was on sale. In the evening Joel fell asleep while I watched My Little Pony and listed some of my fancy dresses for sale on Poshmark. Joel left at 10pm. We kissed goodnight, and then I went to bed. Ta-dah!
Hollywood would be disappointed.
For the first time ever, I had the chance to celebrate with friends and I didn’t take it. And saying that I went to bed like an old lady would be an insult to old ladies…I went to bed several hours before my grandmother did, after a day of the least-festive activities I have ever done. According to the characters, my new year is doomed! But I’m not afraid. And that’s a first, too.
Every year I write 3 goals and 1 attribute in the corner of January’s page. Through the months I try to focus on those things, and then the next year I estimate how much (or how little) I improved.
For 2017 my three goals were:
- more physically fit
- help someone else
- finish a book
I lost 20lbs. Made a fundraising video to help a friend. And although I didn’t finish one of my books, I did help someone else finish two of their books and list them on Amazon.
The attribute I chose for 2017 was “honesty.” I wanted to be more honest with others, and myself. I tried to only laugh at jokes I actually found funny. Be honest with myself about why I felt sad, angry, or even happy. I wanted to speak the truth to people I love even when it was hard. Although I could pick honesty again, in 2018 I need to work on something else: overcoming fear.
When I’m afraid I freeze. I search for the quickest way out of the situation or a path to walk around. In 2018 I want to push through even though I’m afraid. Stop letting my expectations morph into fears, and stop letting that fear paralyze me. I want to break through the fear that New Year’s can somehow curse the rest of my year.
I didn’t know it then, but going to bed was actually the best way to begin to overcome my fears in 2018.
2017: Thanks for being there.
2018: Let’s do this.