Of the many phrases included in my running list of disliked clichés, the phrase “New year, new me” is without a doubt one of my least favorite of all.
Sure, the sentiment behind the saying is nice: with every new year comes the promise of a new and fresh start. Except, the sentiment is false and misleading. This pseudo-assertion does nothing but rationalize the concept of changing oneself like clockwork to adhere to the social riptide.
January 1st doesn’t mean squat. This date is not some magical “redo” button that grants a clean slate. The changes and resolutions you make each January are not an inherent biorhythmic byproduct of each “new” year; they come from YOU.
YOU possess the capabilities to make changes in your life at any point, should you ever want to. The concept of a New Year’s resolution is simply a social construct that carries no significance in your life until YOU decide it does.
After I dropped out of school, I spent four New Year’s Eves falling victim to false hope, telling myself every December 31st that THIS would be the year I picked up the pieces – that THIS would be the year I got my life together. And each year, I foolishly waited for my New Year’s resolution to come true while my mediocre efforts rendered themselves futile and all motivation fled by the time February rolled around. The reason for this being that my “motivation” for change wasn’t actually coming from me, but from the external pressures of the “New year, new me” mentality. My desire for change was nothing more than a socially-charged expectation that I attempted to live up to, while possessing an unbeknownst reluctance to continue my efforts past January, when the elation behind New Year’s resolutions had begun to die.
It wasn’t until one particularly unpleasant March day at the age of 17 that I made the conscious decision to swallow my pride and actually make change happen for myself. It wasn’t brought on by some highly anticipated holiday tradition, nor by a socially-fueled sense of optimism. I was tired of pointless resolutions. I was tired of wishful thinking. I realized that if I wanted change it had to come from me, and me alone. That was the day I began my application to the Gateway to College program, and I have continued to initiate real and authentic positive life changes ever since.
The beginning of a new year does not imply the need for personal change, just as the need for personal change is not required to coincide with the beginning of a new year.
The potential for change is already within you. You just have to be willing to find it.
Eden Shaveet is a Gateway to College student from Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. She is an LAS major looking to pursue further degrees in psychology and neuroscience, and currently works as a Student Leader in Civic Engagement out of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.