New Year, Same You (and that’s okay)

New Year, Same You (and that's okay)

- By JJ

It’s the time of year again when people make long lists of everything about themselves that they want to change in the next calendar year… and then promptly give up in the first two months. Or is that just me?
While making changes isn’t a bad thing, New Year’s resolutions can sometimes be a little toxic. An example could be weight loss/exercise, which always seems to be on people’s list of resolutions.
“I want to be thinner.”
“I want to lose X pounds.”
“I want to look like this model/actor/actress.”
Not so healthy, right? I’m not saying “don’t exercise” and “don’t lose weight,” but we tend to have obsessions about our bodies, especially around this time of year. Then, we start comparing our bodies to those we see in the media and feel like it’s time for drastic changes. Even without weight loss on our list, we start looking at ‘flaws’ and trying to change them in the new year, or we start setting unrealistic goals for ourselves.
“Next year, I will be fluent in this language.” (That usually takes years of practice.)
“I’ll find the love of my life next year.”
“I’ll exercise four hours a day.”
You get the picture. We start looking at ourselves in a carnival-style distorted mirror and thinking about all the ways in which we need to change ourselves to become ‘better.’
Sometimes, resolutions can be helpful to some people. Those are usually people smart enough to not make their resolutions drastic and who have the motivation and drive to consistently work on that goal. If you’re like me, though, you’ll start strong in January, quit by February, panic in December, and throw it back on the resolution list for the next year. Rinse and repeat. 
Get off the ride
Stopping is one of those ‘easy to say; hard to do’ situations. Everyone loves talking about their resolutions and bragging about how they’re sticking with it (for the first month at least). But throwing ourselves in a toxic “time to change everything about myself… just kidding, it’s too much work… sh*t I didn’t make this goal, why am I like this?”-cycle isn’t good for our mental health. And we in the LGBTQ community already have higher rates of mental illness, so why do we keep doing this to ourselves? (I’m mostly talking to myself here.)
If you’re like me, not making resolutions doesn’t really work. All it takes is one person to make a post on Instagram about their goals for the new year, and I’m opening a notebook, color-coding my resolutions by category, and buying a planner to schedule my new, amazing life in the next year. But I’ve found a slightly healthier way to manage my absurd need to control the next year and set goals for myself. 
Things to keep in mind
One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions can be so toxic is because they try to change you drastically in a short amount of time. Another reason is because, most times, they measure you against an impossible standard (set by you). So here are some things to keep in mind if you want to make resolutions:
1. It’s still you at the end of the year. Making goals to completely change yourself as a person will not end in success. Take it from someone who is not a fan of running but kept adding “run 3k every day” to her resolutions list for, like, five years straight. Guess what? I still don’t like running, and I never made it to 3k a month, let alone a day. But I’ve realized I like yoga, and I can do that at least once a week. I couldn’t change my personality, but I could work with it to accomplish an exercising goal.
2. Realistic goals are a must. One of my biggest problems was reading posts and articles about people with drive and motivation who resolved to do something drastic (like lose X pounds) and they did it. That made me think I could do anything, and I started setting unrealistic goals (see the previously mentioned 3k run mistake). Of course, I didn’t reach them thanks to burnout. Then I’d feel guilty and stressed, so I’d end up a step behind where I had started in the first place. I still wasn’t running, but now I felt worse than before I had set the goal.
3. Your health should come first. A lot of times, resolutions are made based on negative emotions (I’m too lazy, so I need to exercise more. I’m not skinny, so I need to lose weight). That means when we don’t meet those goals, we tend to feel more depressed and our feelings of self-worth can take a hit. If you’re planning on making resolutions, try to find them from a positive place (Wow, I love walking my dog. I’ll make a resolution to take her on a hike once a month. I love cooking. Maybe next year, I’ll try to cook at home more often, rather than eating out).
4. You aren’t obligated to make resolutions. This isn’t an assigned essay at school, where you have to make a list and plan of action. If you don’t want to make a list, then just… don’t. It’s your life, and no one else can make you do something you don’t want to do (unless it’s a medical expert telling you there are things you have to do for your health. Then, please listen to them and not me).
Some healthier resolutions
If you’re still set on making some resolutions, like me, then that’s okay as long as you’re remembering those aforementioned things to keep in mind. So here are some of my New Year’s resolutions, coming from a more positive place:
1. Learn more about LGBTQ history. (So that I can grow in my own knowledge and share it with others.)
2. Become more active in the LGBTQ community. (Writing more, connecting more, and supporting my siblings in this community.)
3. Grow more comfortable in my own identity. I came out to my friends just this year, and I’m still figuring myself out as far as sexuality and identity. And that’s okay. I want to devote more time to understanding myself, especially in this area I have overlooked for so long .
4. Try to unlearn some toxic traits. Maybe this will be the year I stop worrying about my weight or being tempted into diet culture. Or maybe it’s the year where I’m one step closer to unlearning the internalized diet culture mindset I have.
5. Be a better ally. I am just one letter of the LGBTQ+ community. I need to remember to show up for my other members, especially the trans community, who is still disproportionately affected by harmful legislation and hate crime. Maybe this means I need to listen more, or consume more media/literature to educate myself more. Maybe this means I need to show up for my community when they call for help.
If you noticed, some goals are a bit vague and have a lot of maybes. This makes it easier to ease into and start with baby steps, so that hopefully I can build better, lasting habits. And these are goals that keep myself in mind, without trying to change my personality or set unrealistic goals.
Are you making any resolutions this year, or are you not the resolution type? 

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