Some perfectly real New Year’s resolutions for anyone who’s already messed up in 2019

Art by Christina Cawad

 

2019? Oh no. The days of feeling excited over a new year seem long gone—at least for me. For a guy on the cusp of adulthood, 2019 is another step for me in this slow march towards the pitiless realities of the “real world.” For 20 years, I’ve lived out my own series of budget mini-dramas not far off from the ones you’d find on Netflix. Heated arguments with the folks at home, near-fatal academic slips, questionable romantic pursuits: that’s an indie film right there. It’s also a script where anyone reading this can probably switch out my name with theirs. Unfortunately for us, we’ve all been there.

But there’s always a takeaway. Rather than just let life beat me around, I sought answers through reflection and the help of friends who were willing to be real with me. In turn, this is my attempt at being real with you, because man, it sure did help me (at least a bit).

We can be demons too

It was roughly a year ago when it struck me: I can be a real ass sometimes. The scary part about it was that I could’ve sworn that I meant well with what I’d done. Yet there I was a year ago, clutching my phone, with my eyes reeling from the messages of someone I had wronged. I’d done it again. Sadly for me, it took a couple of failed relationships to realize that harboring good intentions just isn’t enough — I still hurt these people despite not meaning to.

Rather than defend myself, I sucked it in, not fearing the coming onslaught of hate from my peers. Their judging eyes can only do so much; I had to start fearing myself first. I learned that our true mistakes come when we least expect it. The point is to always remain vigilant and acquaint yourself with the demon you are capable of being. It’s a painful and lengthy process, but going to bed at night is a lot easier when you can tell yourself you’re making an effort to be a decent person.

 

Appreciation takes effort

As they all say: never take things for granted. But the mind is a fickle thing. It’s natural to constantly be in a state of longing. No one wants to feel like they’re settling—we deserve more after all, right? However, there’s a distinction between settling and appreciation. Appreciation is a feat of perception. It’s to shed light on those details we turn a blind eye on, and on a really bad day, those little details can help you pull through. The details can come in many forms: friends who return your calls, a warm bed to call your own, or a cool, new song that just happened to play on Spotify radio. It takes quite a bit of mental fortitude to look at what’s in front of you and say: yeah, that’s pretty good. Time spent rueing over what we don’t have is time spent not appreciating what we do have.


Hubris does no one any favors

There’s always that one thing we’ll never admit to ourselves, let alone to others. Pride pulls us away from reaching towards the darkest corners of our psyche. It’s usually in these dark corners where we find the most fertile ground for improvement. Yet, we’d often prefer to maintain our lofty self-images at the expense of our growth and relationships. Sometimes, you’ve just got to remind yourself that you are not who you think you are. No one really ever is — and that’s okay.

The tricky part is, we can overdo this process and go on fits of self-loathing. Keep in mind that there’s a fine line between conceit and self-pity, and in both cases you will fail to address any of your own problems. In short, there’s always another level, whether you like it or not (and this is coming from a guy with a pretty big ego himself).

Stand out

We hear people tell us to be ourselves, but it’s a lot more enticing to blend with the crowd. The freedom that comes with being your own is frightening — and rightfully so. Aside from the potential rejection of your peers and family, being yourself means constantly traversing uncharted waters, and trust me, you WILL feel lost. But at the end of the day, the lure of the unknown is what will keep you going in the long run. So, get lost and you do you. We only have one life after all, right?

Do things from a place of love

It takes maturity to develop a stoic contempt for life (after everything you’ve been through), but it takes even more maturity to open yourself up fully, despite the pain. After every personal mishap, shutting my heart out felt like the logical next-step. And hey, it worked for a while. However, life quickly turned sterile. Pain was replaced by tedium; getting out of bed was hard.

Living just isn’t sustainable without love tucked in there somewhere. And trust me, it’s in there. It just takes a bit of effort to unearth it. No matter what life decides to throw at you, just remember that the heart can’t just sit idly by.