Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 5. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.
Reason for publication: I wrote this opinion piece to comment on the unnecessary pressure to transform for the new year.
“New Year, New You” – but not for me. The traditional New Year’s saying may be catchy but isn’t necessarily healthy or helpful.
The phrase implies a complete and total transformation in ourselves – a constant, annual revamping that is not imperative. Nor is it healthy to constantly feel the need to change, each year slightly putting your self-esteem aside to conform and make yourself more appealing for society’s taste.
For example, in the January 2015 issue of Oprah Magazine, the title ‘Brave New You’ was used to kick off the new year. It would have been understandable if seen on any of the numerous cheap gossip magazines available, but not on a magazine named for the woman so many people look to as a role model.
It was my understanding that the famous icon’s magazine was catered towards middle-aged women – to reaffirm their confidence in themselves and embrace their personalities despite society’s rules. Titles of reinvention insinuate impossible results.
The fact remains that you don’t need to use the new year as an excuse to reinvent yourself or even feel the need to. You can improve qualities about yourself anytime throughout the year, but too often people get caught up in the notion you must upgrade to fit society’s newest expectations.
Look at the bigger picture – it is too often we get caught up in the notion of “fitting in” by arranging our lives around unachievable rules dictated by society. This ‘society’ is made up of fashion magazines, ads and media with images rarely untouched or un-Photoshopped.
But our society in particular has romanticized the idea of resolutions to the point where people who don’t achieve their goal end up mad at themselves; thus, a goal meant to help ends up counterproductive. A society promoting difficult resolutions, such as weight loss for a new image, gives false hope to those who really do want to find in themselves a better person, which can often not be achieved in a year’s span. The majority of the time, resolutions end up as unrealistic promises that are simply not reasonable.
In fact, basing your resolution around a goal so far out of reach is akin to setting yourself up for failure. The University of Scranton conducted a study that concluded only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions, only further proving we too often reach for the unreachable, and fall on our faces or get discouraged when we realize the amount of work necessary.
This new year should revolve around your own wishes and desires; it should also include the knowledge that you may not finish in just one year. If you’ve been meaning to start a new hobby, try a different sport or improve your oratory skills, setting reachable goals will make you more likely to succeed.
Instead of a complete transformation, a better idea is to find a simple goal. Adding on a simple goal to a hectic life is doable while a complex goal is simply not.
Also, working hard to achieve a small goal, which will have lasting effects, will do you better in the long run then, say, resolving to join a gym and trying to cut your size in half. Wanting to be a happier, healthier you in small ways that may start with joining a gym may get a goal a lot farther, therefore making it less easily disposable.
This year, don’t get caught up in society’s unfulfillable and unattainable expectations. Junior Kylie Shimada summed up a new and more healthy mantra to live by in a single tweet: “Not being a new me, but a better me this year.”