In an unusual turn of events, I found myself bringing in the new year on one of the most relaxing vacations of my life surrounded by supportive friends, and a bunch of friendly strays by the beach. As I lay swinging on a hammock, I was struck once again by the sheer stupidity that are new year’s resolutions. Everyone makes the same pledges to themselves at this time of the year, every year, and ends up giving up on them even before the first week of the year has swooshed past. Then again should that be a reason to give up on trying to self-improve? What is self-improvement even? How do we define it when it means different things to different people?
Right about then, the screenshot of this tweet by Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay, popped up on my Instagram feed:
It read, “I am not doing a single thing differently in January. I am not giving up shit. I resolve nothing. I did difficult self improvement all year so I am not exerting myself further than absolutely necessary,” and suddenly everything made so much sense. Not all new year’s resolutions are self-hate hidden under the guise of self-improvement, so not all of them are a pile of crap that needs to be left behind in 2018, like an old bag of trash. Here are the ones I’m planning on sticking to in 2019 and none of them involve even an iota of self-hate.
#1. Fad diets that exist with the sole purpose of guilting everyone into conforming to society’s arbitrary standards of beauty will remain out of my life.
That shall not stop me from eating healthy meals that will include everything from carbs to good fats and then some! There will be no “cheat meals” in my life. Everything I eat will nurture my body, mind, and soul, and I will give absolutely no one the power to diss me for enjoying food the way I do. Eating good food is also part of self-care, and it’s so important for our sanity!
#2. Every toxic person, place, situation in my life shall be bid “thank you, next”, without mercy.
Be it a relative, friend, a lucrative job, or a well-connected work contact who loves boasting about making careers, anyone / anything not good for my mental health, is going out of my life. For good. I will survive, nay, I will thrive in life regardless. People put up with toxic people and situations because, by their logic, toxicity is everywhere.
Who said that’s a good enough reason to stick to bad things and suffer?
#3. My mental health is more important than anything else and I shall do everything to safeguard its sanctity.
I ignored my depression and anger issues all my life believing I have a grip on everything. But, 2018 was the year where everything unraveled, thanks to an influx of toxic people and situations in my life. So I took charge. I asked for help, and let people help me get through it. I shall continue down this road, help as many others I can, and let no one stop me on this journey.
#4. I shall actively promote self-love, and self-care, with every new stretch mark on my body.
I do not care if someone else thinks my cellulite, stretch marks, and the several other rolls on my body are ugly. I do not care if someone else is merely projecting their insecurities on me. I will actively call out body shamers and continue celebrating my body, my way. A big part of self-care is accepting who we are. Pampering yourself with material things are often confused with self-care when, in reality, it’s about seeking inner peace and self-acceptance.
#5. I shall work harder to be more patient, more inclusive, and kinder to others as well as myself.
My anger issues have given way to severe anxiety. Last year was about recognising and unlearning patterns that were triggering. Being more patient, inclusive, and kind helped immensely, but there’s still a long way to go. This level of self-improvement can never be achieved in one month, or on a whim, the kind on which people generally tend to make new year’s resolutions. But, I am willing to put in the work and improve because I am drawing strength from a place of self-love, not loathing.
So here goes to pledges than aren’t about achieving superficial milestones in a quick-span of time, but to chasing happiness the right way in 2019 and beyond.