By Anne T. Donahue
To start, I’m well aware that as of January 1, few things will change. The pandemic will still be raging. The weather will still be terrible. Any of our extenuating circumstances will continue to party on, and we will march further into the abyss that is, well, wherever we exist now. It will be 2021, and that’s about it. But still, we made it through the last 365 days. And that is what I’ll be celebrating while taking a deep breath and prepping myself for the next batch.
I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions because I had forced fun and I hate the pressure to do anything, ever. But this year I feel particularly disinterested in cultivating a new me for the new year. Frankly, who we’ve been over the last while is good enough. We’re here. We’re doing it. We’re trudging through reality and trying our best to cultivate a sense of normalcy while being fully aware that nothing is normal, nothing has ever been normal, normal was a lie, and on top of dodging a deadly illness, every other certainty we’d been clinging to was ultimately a lie.
And that’s no small feat. Are you kidding me? We’re lining up two metres apart, wearing masks, trying to make ends meet, and being reminded over and over that our capitalist and social norms were always stacked against us. Shit is dark, and hard, and scary. And here we are! Drinking juice and eating chocolate bread for breakfast (guilty as charged), accepting that the only way out is through. Why would any of us need to better ourselves? Bitch, we’re fucking killing it. I refuse to think I need to level up.
Think about it: every jogging pant purchase, every pound gained, lost, or sustained; every moment of strength and vulnerability and every moment spent straight-up screaming out the window into the sun is a testament to how smart and strong and capable you are. “New year, new you”? Fuck off with that noise: you have rebuilt yourself accordingly, and you don’t need to go back. This year has been painful. It’s been marked by a marathon of bad news and dire circumstances. But here we are, standing (or sitting or laying down – who am I to tell you how to exist?) just fine without being told we need to improve because the calendar’s flipped. Self-improvement isn’t dictated by time, which we’ve learned has no real meaning. (I thought it was Saturday this morning for an hour.)
So to every self-help/new year/2021 makeover post, I say: take my extra weight and frown lines and whatever it is you’re asking of me and stuff it. All of these things are a badge of honour, and they’re further proof of a life lived (no matter how boringly). Remember that this year, you got up. You got dressed sometimes. Maybe you raised your kids. Maybe you took care of your pets. You looked after your family. You ate. You read the news (the bravest act). You managed to make it through an American election. You went outside, maybe. You read a book or 42. You decided that your work isn’t fulfilling you in the way you wanted it to, so you’ve started to rethink things. You kept an appointment. You cancelled an appointment. You did the shit, and that is phenomenal.
So 2021 can bring it. It can bend to our whims, at least in terms of the way we begin walking in-step with it. None of us need to change for the new year while we happily put the one we’re living in on the shelf to collect dust until we’re ready to begin unpacking our buffet of traumas. We will take what we’ve learned and push back to the systems we need to change even harder. We will have each other’s backs in a real, viable, tangible way instead of just sending an Emoji heart. We will offer help and ask for help and stop conflating vulnerability with weakness. We will answer truthfully when someone asks us how we are. We’ll wear jogging pants for as long as we damn well please. We made it out of a terrible year in a terrible time. And while I’m not sure how terrible 2021 may be, I do know that all of us are up to conquering it.
See you on the other side, and yes a box of Ferrero Roches count as breakfast.
Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!