I hear a lot of the same rhetoric around New Year’s. The most common phrase, I think, is “New Year, New You.” It didn’t used to bother me, but lately I’ve been finding it really irritating.
One reason is that it’s not really possible to be a new person from one day to the next. Reinvention takes time, focus, and dedication, and even then, a lot of you is still the same person you were a year ago. The last five years have been the most transformative of my life, but at the end of it all, I’m basically the same girl I was when I was ten. Taller, sure. More confident. Less likely to get spaghetti sauce on my shirt. But still the same Sara.
I think my biggest issue with the “New Year, New You” philosophy, though, is that it tells you that you need to reinvent yourself at all. What’s wrong with the old you? Who said you need to start over from scratch? The reinvention people talk about is never about being more generous or kind. It’s always about cosmetic things like weight loss, starting “healthy habits” like running every morning and drinking things that are green, from one day to the next.
I promise you that you do not need a “new you.” You do not need new clothes or diet supplements or appetite suppressants. You do not even need a workout calendar that is sure to discourage you into stopping after only four days.
Here’s a novel idea: instead of starting 2015 by telling yourself that you are so awful you need to start over as an entirely new person, maybe start off with a little self-love (as my friend would say, “Deal with it. Feminism.”). And then, when we finally get around to self-improvement, maybe we can look a little deeper than our adipose layer. How can we make our loved ones’ lives a little brighter in 2015? How can we help our community? And how can we help ourselves, in terms of both mental and physical health?
Probably not by trying to create a “brand new self” from scratch. Maybe with a little positivity and appreciation. But I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.