Reflection, Resolution, and Reinvention In The New Year


New Year’s can be a shaky time for those of us who aren’t yet comfortable with the ground we’re standing on, with where and who we are in the current versions of our lives. It can be unwelcome for those of us who rejoice in the fact that most days go by without the need for reflection and self-judgment. That they go by without a virtual hand forcing our faces right up against the water Lion King style, for those of us who are thankful that we don’t hear the booming voice of James Earl Jones reverberating from the sky each night, pleading with us to remember who we are. But, alas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are not most days.

They are the days when we can’t help but stare our lives and ourselves straight in the face, when we are forced to judge what we see honestly in order to gauge where we are, where we’re heading and if where we’re heading is where we really want to go. This forced self-reflection, augmented either by a post-Christmas overextension of family time, alcohol, or both, can very easily lead to a magnification of what we’ve decided are our most glaring shortcomings and a masking of what we too easily forget are our greatest strengths. It can be a time that drives us to vices of self-doubt, avoidance and regret. But I don’t think it has to be.

I think this time of year and the angsty reflection that comes with it can also be a chance to give ourselves a much-needed pep talk. A chance to remind ourselves of what we’ve loved about our lives and ourselves in 2013, and to be okay with all the imperfections therein. To love them, even, those imperfections, because they’ve made us who we are, at this moment.

What if we took a moment this New Years to close our eyes? And while our eyes are closed, we let ourselves think about all the fears, concerns and anxieties we have about the direction our lives are taking? And while we do this, we won’t think of ourselves as a victim of New Year’s angst, but instead a driving force in its creation?

And then, once all those fears and concerns are at the forefront of our minds, what if, instead of feeling like we’re drowning in them, we feel like we’re basking in them? What if we tell ourselves that the passing of another year isn’t a crisis that needs intervention but a checkpoint that needs affirmation? Not an affirmation that we are where we want to be, but an affirmation that we are where we are. And we might as well love it while we’re in it.

Let’s take a moment this New Year’s to really think about who and what we’ve gotten to see and experience each day, each week, and each month in the past year. Think about what has felt right about those things and what has felt wrong about them. And then let’s take a deep breath. And another one. And then, after a while, let’s see if we can let those breaths put out the parts of the fire inside us that tell us nothing we have is good enough. Because then, maybe, when we open our eyes, we’ll let ourselves be okay with the fact that this part of our lives, what we have right now, as another year passes, isn’t perfect.

Maybe we’ll even let ourselves love that about it.

We’ll love that imperfection not because it’ll make the perfect future that’s waiting for us feel even more perfect when it comes. Nope, there just isn’t enough time to think that way. Instead, we’ll love our imperfections because we have no other choice. Because perfect doesn’t exist, but we do. As we are right now. Just for a moment, maybe we should let the future be just that. And the past too. Maybe we should think of the passing of another year not as a reminder that life is passing us by, but as a reminder that it isn’t.