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To Distracting Myself With New Year’s Resolutions In 2022

A few New Year's resolutions to fend off the despair of the moment.

Red fireworks
Photo via Arnie Papp/Flickr

It’s been maybe half a decade or so since I’ve made any goal seriously resembling a New Year’s resolution. For a long and sad time, through my teens and to my early 20s, so many of those goals revolved around losing weight, or eating less, or exercising more — a version of self-improvement that revolved around being unhappy with my body.

When I learned to let that go (just the part about tying my body negativity to a resolution because lol the work continues), I started making resolutions that focused on other versions of self-improvement: get a new job, drink less, improve my productivity, get to bed at a reasonable hour, don’t look at my phone as much, etc. etc.

And then, in time, I started letting those ideas go, too. I don’t need to “improve” myself, at least not in the ways that make living feel like another job. I am not a project to constantly be whittled into an image that feels so unlike myself.

I also realized that my fixation upon how often I stay up late, or how often I’m on my phone just made me more frustrated with my behavior, and less motivated to try and change these things, which just made me more frustrated. I was creating these self-hating feedback loops over things that weren’t worth getting upset over in the first place (much like the first group of resolutions I cut, but I digress).

So when I stopped caring about that kind of self-improvement, the rest of my energy for New Year’s resolutions fell away. For a few years, I’d wake up the first day of the year feeling unencumbered, looking forward to the possibilities without goalposts getting in my way. And I am very embarrassed to admit, it gave me a very sick, very undeserved ego boost, thinking I was better than people who set resolutions because I didn’t succumb to what I thought was an annual tradition of disappointment. Throwing away resolutions made all the more sense going into 2021 — why expect to reinvent yourself when you were living through a global crisis?

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I might very well feel the same way I did two years ago if it wasn’t for waking up in 2022 and feeling like nothing over the past two years has changed. The despair I felt at the end of 2020 remains. No, I haven’t garnered any newfound hope from President Joe Biden, who continues to disappoint the people who elected him. But it’s the pandemic that has made me feel the most stuck in the past.

As Jack Crosbie blogged yesterday, COVID-19 has declared its victory thanks to the decisions of the people designated to lead us through the pandemic, Biden included. 2021 might have been a year of hope, a year of feeling like we’ve seen the worst and it can only go up from here. But in 2022, all I’ve been able to feel is the despair I thought I left behind a year ago.

It’s exhausting to feel this way, to think that nothing matters and we’re all doomed. It’s also what I’ve been doing for the past week, juggling a few personal and impersonal matters in my brain. I’ve steeped myself in the nihilism of this moment, feeling overwhelmed and depressed, and like the last thing I want to do is get out of bed and work as if what’s happening isn’t happening at all. Which is why I’m turning a corner on New Year’s resolutions, and resolving to make a few.

The thing is, resolutions are feeling like possibly the only fix to get me out of this headspace, for the immediate future, and for when I begin to feel the creep of despair again. And no, I’m still not interested in making any resolutions around changing how my body looks or how much I weigh — fuck those resolutions.

I’m not trying to reinvent myself. But at the very least I’m thinking that making resolutions, at least the ones less about self-improvement and more about goal setting, will give me something to look forward to, and distract me from feeling like doom is all the future has to offer.

So below, dear, readers, I offer you a short list of the things I’m hoping to accomplish in 2022, with no other objective than giving me something to look forward to as the pandemic rages on:

  1. Read 25 books (I don’t think I read even 10 books this year but 25 seems like an unreasonable number that would impress myself if I beat it)
  2. Work up to using 20 lb dumbbells in my weight lifting routine (I am currently using 5 lb weights, so this also seems like an unreasonable number that would impress myself to beat it)
  3. Reorganize the “problem areas” of the apartment (there are so many)
  4. Buy a meal subscription kit and get back into the swing of cooking regularly
  5. Complete a cross stitch project every two months (I’ve fallen off the… embroidery hoop? and I miss it)
  6. Create a photo album for our wedding photos
  7. Stain and seal my wooden work desk
  8. Explore more local paths for taking walks and going on hikes
  9. Complete my unfinished DIY: a tiled coffee table I saw a how-to for on TikTok

I suppose this is an ongoing list, one that I can add and subtract from at any time that doesn’t apply any real pressure to complete these goals. But they would be fun to do, nonetheless, and be a hell of a lot easier on my mind than doing what I’m doing now, which is fretting about the state of the world and the people I love in it.

Please, Discourse Blog subscribers, share with me in the comments what kind of New Year’s resolutions you’ve made for yourselves! I’d love to know what you might be doing to make 2022 a little bit more exciting for yourself, too.