2018: The year we take the pressure off | Ellyn

What did you do this New Year? How long did you spend planning it? Were you determined it had to be the ‘Best. Night. Ever.’? Did you try to send off 2017 with a bang, reminiscing about all your successes and not-so-successes and vowing that 2018 is going to be your year? 

We all seem, at this time of the year, to be obsessed with new starts. Maybe we ate just that little bit too much over the Christmas break and we’re suddenly determined we’re gonna lose weight. Maybe we have financial goals after spending too much on gifts, or maybe we have personal goals to achieve. December through to January is the busiest time for dating apps, recreational clubs, job searches… and I have never seen so many people wandering around looking lost in my gym as in this first week after the new year.

But is it worth it? Many of you have probably woken up this morning to feel a little bit… disappointed. Because when you plan and plan and plan to have the perfect night, well, it’s kind of impossible for anything to live up to that – it starts to feel like forced fun. Up and down the country many people have probably woken up feeling like they spent last night being spun in a circle and punched in the head – oh, and the wallet’s probably feeling a bit thinner than it did 24 hours ago, too – that is if you haven’t lost it on your night out. 

If you went out, there was probably someone who didn’t quite make it to midnight before they had to be put in a taxi home – if they made it out in the first place. There was definitely someone who cried. Ladies – your most heartfelt ‘Happy New Year’ likely came from some drunk girl in the toilets who you’d never met before, and will never see again. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spent counting down to midnight, only to find it the most anticlimactic and awkward moment of the entire evening. I’ve stumbled to bed in the early (or not so early) hours of the morning feeling just a little bit… let down. But if anyone asks, then I would never admit that I had anything less than an amazing time. Didn’t you know that New Year’s Eve is a competition and that you cannot and must not back down?! 

And then there’s the next morning. There must be very few of us who haven’t at one point or another made a heartfelt, ‘big idea’ resolution, only to break it completely by noon on the first day of the year – that’s if we’re awake by then. Hungover, we skip the fruits and oats we had promised to live off in favour of the greasiest fry-up of our lives. Tired from a late night of partying, we decide to forgo the gym and stay in bed bingeing Friends on Netflix as if we’ve never seen it before in our lives. We scroll through job listings and decide we’re not sure we want to move on after all (seems a bit scary), and then we go and blow our savings goal on a January sale – all from the comfort of the bed we’ve decided to live in until we have to go back to work. ‘Oh well’, we say to ourselves, ‘there’s always next year’. But why? 

This year, I’m not afraid to admit, I went a bit mad over New Year plans. My best friend and I had already decided we would do something together – but what? Since around the beginning of November, there have been God only knows how many conversations – from WhatsApp messages to tagging each other in memes – surrounding the major life problem of ‘What To Do On NYE’. We looked up everything from dinner at the Sky Garden (for the cool cool price of just £599 per person) to how easy it would be to get access to my friend’s office and watch the fireworks. We had a pre-planned and scripted conversation ready for when we met up with our other best friend, in the hope she would have pity on us and invite us along to her (tight-knit) family celebrations. In sheer desperation we even contemplated crossing over into 2018 at our 24-hour gym, in cheerful and sweaty denial that anything of note was even happening. We. Went. Nuts.

As it got past Christmas and we still had nothing organised, we began to cross over into desperation. What could we find to do that would be worthy of the post-holiday season work catch-ups, where everyone we know was bound to have done ‘Something Very Cool’?! And at that point, something amazing happened. We stopped caring. We decided to have the dreaded ‘quiet one’.

And do you know what? I think it was one of the best NYEs I’ve had in years. No pressure to get hammered and party all night, to spend ages putting on makeup which will be ruined by sweat or tears, to totter around in uncomfortable shoes and to plaster on a smile and tell everyone I was having SUCH A GREAT TIME HONESTLY. Instead, I drove around to my best friend’s house in my pyjamas, where we made mocktails, ate way too much food, and saw in the new year laughing and smiling and genuinely enjoying the company we were in – and able to remember every minute. This was the first New Year in I don’t know how long that I’ve been completely sober – but why? Sometimes I really enjoy a drink or seven, but if I get drunk it should be because I want to, not because the calendar says ’01 January’ and I feel peer-pressured into it. And it meant that this morning, on the first day of this year, I woke up fresh and ready to spend my day how I wanted. I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but if I had I know I’d be much better prepared to keep them than I was last year.

My goal for 2018 is going to be to stop putting pressure on these moments, dictated by a calendar, and to stop trying to schedule my life and my emotions around ‘big dates’ such as New Year, birthdays, and Christmas. Regardless of how satisfying it is that the first day of the year this year is also, of all things, a Monday, it means nothing – and why should it? 

At the end of the day, not one of us is going to wake up on January the first as the perfect human being, all our flaws and problems disintegrated as the clock strikes midnight. And why should we? All we can do is put one foot forward at a time, making the little changes that add up to making us who we really want to be. So by all means, use this opportunity to start that diet, take up that hobby, or to cultivate a new outlook on life – but if it doesn’t all go as planned, remember that you don’t need to wait around for January 2019 to try again.

Ellyn

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