Why do new years become old?

By Larraine Castillo

Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

With the start of a fresh, new year where everything goes back to square one (at least in our minds), we take it as an opportunity to transform into a whole other person. New year, new me, as they say.

We think our whole lives will suddenly change once the clock strikes twelve and the number on our calendars goes up a notch. Out of the blue, we’ll have that spotless study ethic, perfect skin, a loaded bank account, and more. The goals are there, but a lot of us tend to forget that achieving them requires actually working toward them, and the mere passage of time doesn’t bridge the gap just like that.

It doesn’t take a detective to figure this out, but we’ll still be the same people come January. You won’t wake up on New Year’s Day with a mindset that’s a complete 180 from the year before. In fact, you’ll probably still be dealing with the same exasperating problems as the day, the week, and even months before.

Despite the monotony of it all, there’s still something so addicting about constructing tunnel vision toward our desires in an attempt to make up for the perceived lapses of the previous year. There’s a sort of thrill in daring to become the “best version” of yourself, but we sometimes forget that the journey to get there is an uphill climb rather than a linear path. So what exactly are we doing wrong?

Admittedly, I am the kind of person who takes New Year’s seriously. The one who’s into planners, journals, self-improvement, the whole nine yards. My routine every January 1st would be to make vision boards, list down the things I hoped to accomplish, and vow to be my “dream self” by December. But then new years become old; as time goes on, the year becomes more and more like the one before it. I would find myself dreading how I handled the last 12 months and looking toward the next for a second chance as if there was going to be some significant difference between them and not in my own actions.

Why does this happen, you may ask?

I guess I became fixated on the glamorous plans I’ve made for myself to the point that the steps it takes to actually get to these destinations would slip my mind. Never underestimate the power of one bad week to make you completely set aside these grand ambitions to make room for the temporary pleasure that comes with giving up even before the rest of the year has even transpired.

Here’s a brief breakdown of three of the common resolutions I’ve made for myself over the past years:

Dean’s Lister

Like most other college students aiming to make the best of their circumstances, going above and beyond for my grades was practically in my nature. Sleepless nights and breakdowns were always going to be a part of the package, and the online setup didn’t make things any easier.

Out with the junk

I loved chips and instant noodles as much as the next person, but I knew I needed to fix my tendencies soon or I would continue to feel sluggish for the foreseeable future. Ever the inconsistent one, I was skipping out on days I was supposed to be exercising. Still, more often than not I couldn’t even bring myself to revert back to healthy habits for my body because the tempting alternative, which was sleeping in and eating delicious but bloat-inducing food, did not leave much room for resistance.

Situations and shyness

Photo by Dustin Belt/Unsplash

As a “shy type” introvert (wow!), I knew I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in terms of friendships. Making connections from different facets of life doesn’t hurt, but the social anxiety before saying the first “hello” definitely does. There have been one too many times that I shied away from potential new friends because I just didn’t know how to be part of a simple conversation.

And the cycle repeats itself every year. But I realized I was doing myself a disservice by not being consistent with my habits. These things don’t just happen in a snap, and the work has to happen every single day whether we feel like it or not. Discipline can never be taken out of the equation whether it’s January, June, or October. I would have to do more than visualize to get my hands on these goals. There are concrete steps to be taken, and applications past the theorizing, and that’s what I was missing.

Plus, we don’t even need a new year to morph into the person that we want to be. Not that this is definitely in the cards for dreamers wanting to improve themselves, but in my case, I underwent a torturous, absolutely heartbreaking event to get to where I am now. Let’s just say it’s the kind of plot twist writers include in their screenplay at the last second to keep next season’s viewers on the edge of their seats. Who knew that that was all it would take for me to realize I deserved more than what I was giving myself?

I couldn’t be happier than I was in 2022 because I genuinely chased after what I wanted for myself. I didn’t just let it pass me by in the hopes that it would eventually come to me on its own, like what my 2021 self would have done. I intend to remain proactive in 2023, no matter how exhausting it can sometimes feel.

The kind of resolution that will last

The truth is the universe isn’t going to be kind to you most of the time, but as the clichés go, it’s how you respond to the bricks life throws at you that builds your character. You will, eventually, become your dream self, or you will build yourself the shovel to dig them up from inside you under the layers and layers of dirt you thought wouldn’t budge.

New Year resolutions don’t even have to be extravagant. They don’t have to be focused on buying mansions, receiving 7-figure incomes, or traveling to all the countries of the world (although, give it some time if you really want it; who knows?). They can be as little as being kinder to yourself when you look in the mirror, spending a little more time away from work to be with your family, or hitting up your friends from years ago for a long overdue cup of coffee.

Time, mystical time

Photo by Kevin Delvecchio/Unsplash

What we do with our time makes us who we are. If we idly let it pass by as if it will magically heal all our scars or grant us all our deepest wishes, the complete opposite will happen. It is solely up to us what our time will amount to: the further festering of our wounds or the search for resources to become whole again.

It’s about the struggle of getting through each day using healthy habits without reverting back to the ones that don’t serve us. Time can be your worst enemy or your best friend. It is part of the formula, not the whole equation. You’ve got all year, so choose to make yourself your greatest investment, with time on your side.

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