By Anne T. Donahue
Does anybody care about New Year’s anymore? Is anyone decking the house out, getting dressed up, and planning to ring in the passage of time as if it’s something we’re in control of and can escape from? Does 2022 even warrant a celebration? Or, like me, are you simply clenching your jaw to the point of chronic pain, terrified what the unknown may bring?
I’ve never believed in resolutions or in blaming bad things on an arbitrary year, but I do believe that the temptation to dive into change because it’s January and I need an escape hatch on my day-to-day life is very strong, and one I want to wrap myself in. I want so desperately for 2022 to be different. I want it to be good and fair and a capsule of wonderful memories, and I want the horrors of my last 52 weeks to feel far away and hardly relevant; a host to events that merely happened, as opposed to events that defined me. I want to put on a sparkly outfit and declare the misery marathon over, as if I personally can dictate the terms of human existence. I want a fresh start. I feel entitled to that.
But alas, I am not. Instead, 2022 will symbolize another means of categorizing various life events, and that’s about it. It offers no sanctuary from the pain we’re bringing with us into another 12-month calendar, and it can guarantee nothing but the unknown. Which is a small comfort I’m going to borrow myself in.
I’m tired of thinking I can wield any real control over anything outside of my day-to-day life – and even in terms of the simplest form of living, I’ve learned that I’m still at the mercy of other people, life events, and whatever we can categorize the pandemic as, currently. This doesn’t mean I won’t try or engage actively with my days and the people I love and the work that makes me feel happy. It means that I’m ready to let go of sweeping goals and to replace them with what makes me want to be a person hanging out on earth. It means I’m ready to let go of using time as a way to measure how productive or worthwhile I am. Maybe big things will happen in 2022, or maybe it’ll be another chapter in emotional and mental trauma. But all I’m up for anymore is a shoulder shrug as I fill in my eyebrows, lest anyone notice that without them on I look like Charlize Theron in Monster.
Of course, this isn’t a guide or a suggestion that you follow my lead. (Imagine? “Be like me! A person who cried watching Below Deck twice in two weeks!”) Instead, it’s the reminder that 2022 is just a year. It is just another means of documenting our experiences or marking the moment something changed, for better or for worse. It isn’t fair to put the onus of a “good year” on ourselves in an era defined by unrest. And it isn’t fair to put pressure on ourselves to clean up the mess of our recent (and not-so-recent) pasts and make sure everything’s bright, new, and shiny on January 1. It won’t be, because that’s not how anything works, let alone humans. But it can be another testament to simply existing, which can be (and often is) a feat unto itself. It can be proof that you’re here and that you’re moving or even just laying still (taking a nap, which is one of my favourite past times). 2022 doesn’t owe us a thing, but we don’t owe it anything either. And instead of worrying about what you’ve achieved or that time’s slipping away while you tread water in a man-made pool with not nearly enough floaty flamingos, maybe it’s okay to sit poolside and survive. Because that’s what I’m reminding myself of as 2021 comes to an end: it’s enough that I’m here. Not even still standing, just sat comfortably on a marshmallow couch, surrounded by empty ginger ale cans.
I have no idea what 2022 will bring us, but I’m too tired to assume the best. This year, I’d like only to withstand and to welcome any/all good surprises while cursing inevitable downsides while curling up on a bed of linguine. I’d just like to keep going because honestly, that’s a pretty big victory on its own. So let’s be victorious together.
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