Happy 2016! I love the beginning of the new year, partly because it means my birthday is coming up (January 9th, for anyone keeping track), and partly because it gives me the chance to reflect on all the blessings that have been heaped on me in the last year.
Do you know what I hate about the new year with a burning, fiery passion? “New year, new you.” Ugh.
It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is proclaiming that their product or service will magically transform you into a new, better person. Whether it’s a weight loss plan, a new organizational system, or a new hairstyle, the message is clear: you aren’t enough the way you are. You’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, organized enough, smart enough, good enough. Use the new year to change that.
It seems like every year I’ve made some grand resolution that was supposed to change everything and make me happy. This year, I’m going to stop eating fast food. This year, I’m going to count calories and finally lose the weight. This year, I’m finally going to start exercising every day. Sometimes I stuck to my resolutions, and sometimes I didn’t, but you know what? They never made me happy, because every resolution I have ever made centers around one basic idea: I am not enough the way I am. I’m going to use this new year to change that. (Are you sensing a theme yet?)
Well, you know what? This year, I’m not going to accept that. 2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life, but I learned a lot about how to take care of and love myself. One lesson that I keep coming back to over and over is that if you want to make changes in your life and really have them stick, they have to come from a place of self-love, not self-loathing. If you want to eat right and exercise, do it because you love your body, not because you hate it. If you want to choose to indulge in delicious, high-quality food rather than counting every calorie, do it because you know it will make you happier, not because you starved yourself all day and feel you “deserve it.” If you decide to implement a new organizational system, do it because you love color coding things and you’re excited to be more productive, not because you think of yourself as a lazy, unorganized slob.
You get the idea.
I’m all for self-improvement, but I promise that if you do it from a place of self-loathing, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Setting resolutions because you hate yourself just leads to more self-loathing when you inevitably slip up (because you will, you’re only human). For example, let’s say you decided you’re going to stick to 1,200 calories a day* this year to really lose that weight. You do really well for the first couple days, nibbling your carrot sticks and eating your salad for lunch. Then, inevitably, someone brings cookies to the office. You think, “I’ve been so good, surely I deserve one.” Then you eat one, and all hell breaks loose. You started this resolution because you hate your body. You hate how you feel, you hate how you look, you hate that you can never seem to stick to a diet. You eat the cookie, and then you think to yourself “God, I couldn’t even stick to my resolution for three days. What the hell is wrong with me?” So either you redouble your efforts and the cycle continues to repeat, or you decide “to hell with all of it” and go eat an entire cake.
So this year, I encourage you to focus on what you love about yourself instead of what you hate. Treat your body and mind with love, compassion, and kindness. Eat the cookie or don’t, whichever makes you happy, but be grateful that you live a life where you have the luxury of turning down food. Throw “new year, new you” out a fifty-second story window because you don’t need to be a new you. You are wonderful the way you are. You are pretty enough, skinny enough, organized enough, smart enough, good enough. You, my beautiful reader, are enough.
*I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THIS! I can’t say that enough. I’m not a nutritionist, but seriously, don’t do it.