Twitter and Instagram are awash with advice for how to make the most of the new year. I think we’re being shortsighted if we don’t realize that, while a new year does flip a new calendar page, things are still very much the same.
I am still a mom of 3, working from home, with no childcare. Actually, that’s not true — my husband is taking care of the kids, and doing an excellent job, but that’s because his job fired him in September and here we are. This is not our ideal home-life situation, but we’re making the best of it. Some days are significantly rougher than others.
I am battling depression and anxiety, which would still be true pandemic or not. But do I really need to focus on achieving more and better, or optimizing my life to the point of insanity? Just because it’s a new year?
No. What I really need is quiet. Space. Permission to chill.
If you’re there too, whether you’re a parent or not, working or not, struggling or not, let’s remember one thing: a new year is still just another day. Your goals and achievements are not tied to a 12-month time-frame. You are not a failure if, like me, your biggest accomplishment during the year of 2020 was that you made it through to the other side.
Our collective obsession with fresh starts and new beginnings is what drives this resolution madness. I get it. I have spent many Decembers of my life planning goals and intentions for Januarys-to-come, determined that this would be the year that I finally did something awesome. That I finally succeeded at everything. That I stopped feeling like such a haphazard mess of a human.
There have certainly been years that stand out more than others. The ones where I had babies. The one where my first book was published. The one where I got married.
But years can stand out for not-so-great reasons, too. The one where my grandma died. The Christmas and New Year holidays that I spent (more than one) being physically and emotionally wrecked by miscarriage.
Those years, with so much sadness in tow, January seemed like a burst of fresh air hovering on the horizon. If I could just make it through December, everything would be fine.
But in a year like 2020 where most of us were just trying to make it through every day, every week, and every month, a new year has little appeal. We’re still in a pandemic. We’re still dealing with fallout from all the things.
A new month and a new year is great, but it’s not a reason to sabotage your mental health just because you have to accomplish something.
If you’re still just taking it one day at a time; struggling to process the dumpster fire of 2020; grieving loss upon loss; confused by everything; only able to muster the energy to watch that favorite show for the 12th time… then you’re still doing great.
Your life is not measured by success.
It’s measured by the periods between the wins. In the middle of the ups and downs. In the trudging forth and the going on even when you don’t think you can any more.
Your life is measured by living, and let’s not be pressured into thinking that “living” means accomplishing, doing, or winning.
Because, my friends, “living” is also being. Existing. And just inhaling and exhaling from one moment to the next.
This year, that is my resolution: to live, to be, and to breathe.