Ok here we go. This is my first post of the year. And even though it’s the end of January, this makes it okay for me to still talk about things like My Plans To Instantly Become a Better Person Now That It’s 2016!
As last year came to a close, I got to thinking about New Year’s resolutions and why nobody ever keeps them. According to a 2-year-old article on Details.com (the premier source out there for sociological data/just about as far as I was willing to google) 1 in 3 people who make resolutions will give up on them by the end of January. That’s pretty depressing, since it seems to me nobody would bother to make a resolution in the first place if it wasn’t something they really wanted to do. I mean, people are really out here evaluating themselves and their lives, saying things like “you know what, I really need to get healthier,” and “this is the year I find the perfect job for me,” and “alcohol is destroying my life,” mentally committing to a change, and then four weeks later they’re hungover and eating an Egg McMuffin again on the way to their job at Stop n’ Shop.
On the one hand, this makes total sense to me. I get it – alcohol is amazing and hard to turn down, junk food is the best thing out there, and the Stop n’ Shop has surprisingly good benefits which is nothing to sneeze at, even if Donna from the bakery department is super rude to you in the break room, like, every day. And of course, there are plenty of limitations that make it harder for people to just manifest their mothafuckin’ dreams. Unhealthy food is often the cheapest, tastiest, and easiest to obtain, addictions are very real, and habits in general are difficult to just change willy nilly when you’re bogged down with So Much Life Shit. Most people can’t just quit their dumb jobs and pursue their passion of knitting cat sweaters full-time, unless they’ve somehow already tapped into the extremely niche market of people who own cats that will actually wear sweaters AND they have enough savings to sustain themselves while they crank out inventory.
Don’t even get me started on exercise. Who has $100 a month to spend on a Classpass? (And I’m not just saying this because they turned me down for a job one time – even though I don’t forgive them, and I still think I would have made a delightful customer service representative.) $100 a month for one of those passes would seriously cut into my meatball sub budget.
Sigh. Just like my fantasy Valentine’s Day vacation at an all-inclusive resort in the Cayman Islands to which I arrive by private helicopter, I guess “manifesting” is a privilege reserved for the rich.
So fine, there are obvious practical reasons why we’re not all skinny, sober Instagram fitness models who are also self-made artistic entrepreneurs with six figure incomes. But what about the emotional reasons? Many of us do have the tools to make positive changes, we’re just too lazy and mentally blocked to try. The “easiest” thing isn’t always the most practical, right?
For example, the majority of my spending money is wasted on overpriced food that is terrible for me. Name a kind of meat and I’ve probably eaten it in the last 30 days. Am I rich? Nope. It’s just a dumb thing I’ve been doing because it makes me feel good. Also, I have a gym in my building. It’s free, and I still don’t really go that often. My boyfriend pays for a gym membership even though we have one here, just to create a feeling of guilt that forces him to work out. I know lots of people who do this, actually. And it really works. The brain is on some other shit.
So when it came time to make resolutions for myself, I didn’t really want to do it. I was worried that, like most people, I’d bite off more than I could chew and eventually I’d just give up.
Still, I had things I wanted to do. Eat better, get in shape, write more, save money, film a web series, form an improv team, maybe even make some money from my writing? These things aren’t all that complicated, they just require focus, dedication, drive, guts…which, paradoxically, are really hard to constantly maintain when you’re tired from working and hungry from dieting. I could create a rigid meal plan and a schedule for my writing, but it’s not going to make it any more emotionally appealing after a hard day at my office job where I was literally thinking about eggplant parmesan for 8 straight hours.
That’s when I realized I was forgetting something crucial…I never congratulated myself for my successes in 2015! How can I be expected to be motivated to improve if all I’m doing is critiquing myself? If you’re trying to teach a dog to roll over, for example, and all you do is yell at him when he doesn’t roll over, he’s not going to learn the trick. He’ll just be afraid of you, and thinking “Man, where the heck are the Beggin’ Strips? This dude is a major A-hole, and my feelings are hurt.”
I recently watched the documentary Trophy Kids, about parents who push their kids to be the best at sports to the point of emotionally abusing them. All of these kids were ranked highly in their respective sports, but the parents would always find something to yell at them about. And the kids ended up resenting them for it – go figure! I don’t exactly know what this is like, because my parents are ridiculously supportive of me even though I’ve nearly always been a piece of shit. But I’m hard on myself, which most of the time just makes things worse. My dad has been trying to get me out of my own head since I was a kid. He tried everything from introducing me to meditation to playing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” on the way to my school in the morning. But I would still beat myself up over every mistake and inadequacy, and to this day I find it hard to shake off that mentality.
It’s a misconception that perfectionists and self-critical people are always overachieving. I can say from my own experience that fear of failure has, in some way, slowed me in pursuing nearly every goal I’ve ever had. Sometimes it would prevent me from turning papers in on time. Sometimes it stops me from initiating improv scenes. Currently, it’s holding me back from pursuing a full-time writing career. To get somewhere, you have to encourage yourself. Doubt and negativity are the enemies of success. It’s corny, but it makes sense. Why else would there be so many internet trolls?
Fighting your fears is a lifelong process. I’m never going to wake up one day and be afraid of absolutely nothing. Or maybe I will when I’m 150, and that will be the day I die. That would be a sick way to go out. #deathgoals. But I’ve realized that if I don’t take the time to recognize my successes, appreciate them, and congratulate myself for them, I’m never going to be truly motivated to be even better at life. After all, if I can’t be proud of myself, what is the point of any of this? Will anything ever make me happy? Where the F*CK are the Beggin’ Strips??!
So, this is just a reminder as you navigate the rest of this year to be kind to yourself. You’ve done great so far. Take a minute to look at yourself from the eyes of a younger you. I bet the 14 year old version of yourself would be beyond impressed by where you are today. And if not, you can at least be glad that you’re alive and breathing, and you’ve got time to turn things around. If you get your headspace right, then you can focus on the work. And that’s when the change will come.
And I should know. I’ve been to rock bottom. I have a timeshare there.
To get us started, here is my favorite song about self love from the past year 💖💖 Enjoy!