New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays, and has been since before drinking champagne was an option. It comes with a sense of cleansing – this idea that whatever happened last year does not matter, for in ten seconds it’ll all be behind us and we will embrace a fresh-faced year that we pledge to make the most of. That, and it’s the only holiday that condones staying up until midnight, something I do on a daily basis anyways.
Of course, resolutions seem to trip a lot of people up – Do I try to lose weight? To read more books? To eat better? I told myself for three years in high school that I was going to run a 10k. Four years later and I still haven’t done it.
Last year, my resolution was simply “be happy.” I just wanted a life where the good times outweighed the bad. I don’t know if I consciously followed this resolution, but I do think that 2016, despite its terribly disappointing moments, did have a lot of happy moments too.
This year, I thought I’d continue the “be” resolution theme. So my resolution for this year is to “be genuine.”
This decidedly is made up of two more “be’s”: “be kind” and “be present.”
No one can deny the brutality of 2016: A year of divisive, aggressive election campaigns. A year of more civil war in Syria and Yemen that is tearing apart families daily. Another year of inequality for minorities in America: another year where black citizens have to be scared for their lives when they see police headlights, another year where we attempt to ignore the rights of Native American citizens in pursuit of a skewed, dark version of the American Dream. Another year where women were brutally sexually assaulted, and their perpetrators walk away without repercussions. That’s why, in 2017, I want to be kind.
And not the sort of kindness where I “help” the disenfranchised to either make myself look better, or just by posting something and not backing it up with action. I want to be a kind of kindness that’s full of action verbs – a kindness that advocates, a kindness that listens, a kindness that stands in solidarity and tries to actively make a change on my university campus. Kindness in the face of hate.
Still, I believe that it’s important to just genuinely be nice to people: all people. Even those people I don’t agree with, even those I consider bigots. Everyone has a reason for believing what they do. And even though there are people whose opinions are hateful and I in no way feel inclined to respect hate, it’s still important to be kind to them. We are all human with our own personal history, and that alone makes them deserving of kindness. And kindness in response to hate speaks volumes.
In 2017, I want to compliment more people for their intelligence, for their work ethic, for their outfit that they most likely spent a good portion of their morning picking out. I want to smile at people – not just an awkward toothless grin when I see someone I somewhat know, but big, toothy smiles and “Hi, how are you?”s. I want to give more hugs and buy more lunches and try to be a good friend to those in my life.
Of course, it’s important to not forget oneself when trying to be kind. The best way for me to be kind to myself is by listening to my body – noticing when it’s hungry, when it needs exercise, when it is exhausted. It is noticing when I need vegetables, and noticing when I need a cupcake – because there will definitely be times in 2017 where I’ll need something sweet.
Being kind to myself means cutting off toxic relationships – it means taking active notice of who is bettering my life and who is not. It means realizing that maybe I’m trying too hard to live the kind of life that seems “shareable” – worth putting on display for my Facebook friends or Instagram followers to see. It is noticing if I’m putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect.
I hope that when my kids or grandkids ask me about college, that I have stories to tell them. I hope I get to tell them about what things looked like, how they smelled, how they felt, instead of just telling them that I experienced them all through a screen.
I want to stop being that girl who’s always on her phone. I want to really experience the world around me, whether it be class or a party. I want to be someone that doesn’t need to know what all of her friends are posting on their Snapchat stories – because I want to be engaged in the here and the now.
I want to continue to make ties with people – to have more conversations with strangers, to drink coffee with more people, to be someone that people can call their friend.
Above all, I just want to take me, and make me my most authentic, genuine self. I want to keep being silly, I want to keep being weird. I want to laugh often but also cry every once in a while because both are signs of a full life. I want to experience life as it comes and goes and feel the world as it moves around me.
2017, I hope you make me a better person, whether or not I run a 10k. I hope you keep me focused on being someone that I like.