It’s Okay If You’ve Dropped Your New Year’s Resolutions Already

Photo Credit: Ava Sal via Unsplash

Love Letters To My 20s: A Fortnightly Column On The Stigma Surrounding Our Twenties

“You don’t need a new you. You don’t need replacing every year like another iPhone. Don’t throw yourself away like another piece of plastic trash. Love the old you. Improve, evolve, do better, but head towards yourself, not away. Be gentle with your mind.” – Matt Haig

Raise your hand if, for the last couple of years, you’ve shared that same tweet exclaiming that “this is the year I learn to drive” on New Year’s Day, and then proceeded to not even book – never mind pass – a driving test. *slowly raises hand*

I’m terrible with New Year’s resolutions. Last year, I told myself that 2020 would be the year that I stopped biting my nails, and then only made a feeble attempt to quit the habit come October when I realised how quickly the year was running away from me. There’s just something so completely unreachable about them, and yet, every time January the 1st rolls around, you can guarantee that I’ll be sat next to my journal with bells on, listing pages upon pages of ways that I will better myself over the next twelve months.

I think we all made an extra special effort with resolutions this year though, didn’t we? It was so easy to think that 2021 was going to be huge, after the shitshow of 2020, and whilst we weren’t under the illusion that Coronavirus would dissipate as soon as the clocks ticked over from December to January, everyone had a part of them that was ready for a fresh start; a change; some peace and quiet.

So when Boris Johnson announced Lockdown 3.0, I can’t have been the only twenty-something that began striking resolutions off the first page of my journal; fuck Dry January, pass me the leftover Celebrations, and Couch to 5K can wait a while. If the first lockdown taught me anything, it’s that mounting the pressure of achieving something of made-up ‘value’, whilst trying to not go stir crazy looking at the same four walls every day (and finishing my degree online), is not good for anyone involved. We keep hearing people say “Give yourself a break! We are in the midst of a global pandemic!”, and whilst that advice is completely logical, it’s far easier said than done.

By setting ourselves these huge, life-changing, unachievable goals for this year, I’ll admit it for us all, we set ourselves up for complete failure. So, it’s okay that you’ve dropped your New Year’s resolutions already; most of us have. Even when we aren’t battling with a deadly virus, a lot of us don’t follow through with them anyway. When I realised this, I sat by my journal once again and began to create a shorter list of small aims that I could complete from my house, which I wouldn’t beat myself up for if I didn’t tick off.

  1. Finish university. Not graduate with a First and step into the first graduate scheme I apply for; just finish the course. I don’t know about you lot, but writing my dissertation cross-legged on my bed is making me want to bash my head against a wall. I’m not going for gold here.
  2. Book a driving theory test. I’m walking into this one assuming that a cancellation email and a refund is about to head my way, and if that’s the case, at least I did what I could with what I was dealt.
  3. Read 24 books; that’s two books a month. I did more than this last year, because I didn’t put pressure on myself. As it looks like I’ll be spending the next few months on my sofa, I think this small aim is achievable!
  4. Apply for Masters courses. Again, I’m not saying that I’ll be successful, or end up on a specific course at a specific university. As long as I apply and know that I did the best I could, I’ll give this one a big fat tick.

Already, I’m feeling better about 2021, and if all goes well and we are out of lockdown by the Spring, then I’ve left myself plenty of room to go above and beyond what I thought I would! What I’m going to try and take with me into every day of this year is not mourning the life I could be living without the coronavirus. At twenty-something, it’s in our nature to wish we were in a pub drunkenly hugging all of our friends, or typing away at our dissertation in a bustling coffee shop, and regret all of the opportunities that we passed on pre-COVID. But, this January, I’m not going to torture myself, roll with the punches instead, and be grateful for everything that I do have, which is (hopefully) the cocktail mix to a very happy New Year.

Words by Morgan Hartley

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