Like every year in January, the slogan “New Year, new you!” was everywhere. Every time I read it, my first thought was “Nah, New Year, exactly the same you”, because we all know that the whole “changing everything that you are from one day to the next”-nonsense is just that: nonsense. I – deadline misser extraordinaire – presented proof of this as recent as yesterday, by letting the deadline of this post fly by like a comet.
But then there’s this little voice deep inside that goes: “But maybe this time it’s different?” Because being an Anxious Person, I of course am the ideal candidate for this type of magical thinking.
During some of the not so great times in my life, my entire existence was an obsessive quest for (self) improvement. My life was ruled by to do lists and productivity, improving myself by any (self help) means necessary. I did this to try and curb my fears, and it worked in the short term. I ticked off boxes and felt better about myself because I was “being productive”, which made me feel like I was worthy. In the long run however, it made things worse. I was never done “perfecting” things, instead my to do list grew with things that I could optimise about my home, my work flow and my personality. With the growing to do list my stress levels and fear level increased. A fear reduction strategy that ends up making you more anxious than you were before: how counterproductive can it get?
On top of that, I have this constant urge to reinvent myself. Part of it is the nature of the beast: I have an easily bored, creative mind that does not get enough artistic freedom and/or stimulation in my current life, so I just change my hair colour a lot instead. And I was of course also heavily influenced by Bowie and Madonna at an impressionable age.
So I understand the attraction of “New Year, new you” like no other. The belief in the illusion that you can completely determine and change everything that you are at all times, the conviction that you can turn yourself into something that you’re not, because you are convinced that if only you were different, you wouldn’t [insert thing here], is a perfect escape. While you dream about what your life would be like once you, magically and all of a sudden from one moment to the next, are completely different from who you are now, you don’t have to occupy yourself with actual change. The type of change that takes work, like therapy, working out, cleaning up your crap, taking a class, working on your projects or finally taking control of your career. The type of change that takes time, energy and might even cost money, and that doesn’t come with a success guarantee, but that is a lot more tangible than quietly dreaming about waking up as one of those cool fashion/music/diy/bullet journal YouTubers with 75k followers on Insta one Thursday morning. While not even having a YouTube channel to begin with. I am definitely not refering to myself here. No way. Not at all.