New Year after New Year, resolutions after resolutions, goals after goals. Some were achieved but some were not. The turning of our calendar page from one year to another resembled a new start. It motivated us to bring changes. Just like how many burn, crumple, or tear their penned feelings, the shifting calendar pages also imply the same sentiment. The old is gone, and the new is ahead.
What we leave behind and what we intend to take with us, what we choose to unlearn and what we want to learn, the habits we drop and the ones we wish to pick up, the tensions we calm and the happiness we cherish, all owe to our ability to control them. With the calendar page turning from 2020 to 2021, how do we make the conscious decision to leave behind the pandemic? How do we choose to leave behind the struggles it brought with it? The financial challenges, the salary-cuts, the job losses, and the many political and social struggles. How with just the turn of a page do we fix that?
It lies outside our control. Perhaps that is why we steer clear from making any significant resolutions or saying, “2021 will be my year!” The control of the actual events has been taken out of our hands and we feel powerless. It’s like the weather- out of our control. But even when the weather is out of control, we still get to decide on our clothing. Yet, the situation is complicated. Not everyone will have equal access to the same type of clothes at the same prices. No, this isn’t a write-up on poverty and social inequalities although that too is an important topic.
2020, in general, may have been the toughest year, especially for gen Z as our elders have already had their fair share of experiences in various economic and political issues and the previous H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10. Now that most of us are grown enough to be able to comprehend, understand, and feel the consequences in a more profound way than a decade ago, we understand and feel issues better. Directly unrelated problems create a ripple effect that affects us too. We worry about our family’s finances if they were subject to salary-cuts or workforce reduction. We fear our stay in the country, the continuity of our education, and our future. The lockdown has affected many of us social beings negatively by making us unable to meet people and socialize in person while introverts might be having a gala time in their personal space. Yet, other issues could have impacted their lives as well, such as the current universal question mark- online education. Many are subject to abuse and domestic violence having to spend more time at home while many are happy that they get more time with their family.
The difference in impacts has created a bridge between people who have just survived and those who have achieved a lot. We’ve seen people being called lazy for not achieving much in a pandemic but also people being proud of mere survival. The key to not being guilt-tripped or guilt-tripping is situational understanding and self-awareness. Most of these things are directly controllable (even if not easy to do so). If you’ve found yourself not achieving much in this pandemic, ask yourself “why?”, and question your reasoning as well. “Is this a true barrier or am I making excuses?” Keep finding alternatives, “what can I do to overcome this obstacle?” Yet, be kind and compassionate with yourself. If you graduated from school and wanted to take a break, you deserved it. If you had emotional and personal barriers that made productivity difficult, don’t invalidate yourself but cope and seek appropriate help. If all you did was survive, it’s okay. You didn’t have valid reasons to ‘just’ survive? Run yourself through the questions above and make 2021 yours.
For starters, consider the following these steps to help you steer through what the new year is throwing ahead at us
1. Acknowledge what has happened, and what may happen, and give yourself a pat on your back for making it far enough to be able to read this.
2. Even though you might have suffered a great deal from everything 2020 has thrown at you, do everything in your control to continuously push yourself to acknowledge positive changes (no matter how tiny you may think they are!), lessons learned, changes to make ahead, and know that you are bigger than all of these hurdles.
3. As everything has shifted online and the current trends show that it will remain so for longer, analyse your screen time, explore hobbies (some ideas: paint, design, coding, marketing, creative writing, poetry, knitting, baking, cycling, blogging), and find out alternative spaces to spend your time to protect your eyes and soul from possible depression, anxiety, and other health hazards inflicted by high screen time, especially social media usage.
4. Journal. Understanding yourself and staying connected with your thoughts and feelings is important as it will direct you to take more productive actions and maintain more stable mental health.
5. Spend me-time. It’s okay to disconnect from socialising and work and spend some time doing things that are objectively unproductive but help calm you or keep you in a zen space.
6. Do not judge plainly by the ability to buy clothes for the weather conditions. Remember that there are many circumstances that further define the availability and accessibility to the clothing we talked about. Everyone’s journey is different and unique. Your only competition should be yourself. Don’t let the adulterated standards, pictures, posts, and ideas on social media take over your belief system. You are greater than a web algorithm.
7. Develop a plan for your goals and tasks ahead. Online work or learning can be more challenging but is certainly not a barrier you can’t cross. Control the increased distractions, and find ways to adapt to the new learning atmosphere.
8. During a road trip, there exists the journey and the destination. Even though the destination is important the journey is often most enjoyed. Likewise, don’t be hard on yourself by assessing end goals and narrow results. You may have missed out on achieving exactly what you wanted, but you can never miss out on the experience and learning you gained in attempting to do so. Even when you reach where you wanted, you wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t undertaken the journey. So value the journey, not just the destination.
With all these lessons learned and applied, the flipping of the calendar page remains a metaphor for the old being gone and the new coming up. We’ve learned our lessons from one calamity of a year, now we show 2021 that we’ve learned and will do our best to improvise, adapt, and overcome, even in the face of new virus variants. So don’t feel afraid of making new resolutions and saying “2021 will be my year!” because indeed if you want it to be your year, it will be your year. The trick is to place the emphasis on the journey and not the destination.
What are your resolutions and learning for the coming year? Let me know in the comments below! Oh and, Happy New Year and don’t forget the seize it!