Usually I write something for new years; these posts tend to follow a particular pattern, and they often end about the same way as well. I did not write one this year, in part because our domicile was positively lousy with guests--all of whom I was more than thrilled to see--but also because I do not want to become too predictable. Probably a vain goal, but you must allow me my idiosyncrasies.
I have no new years resolutions. I have goals, certainly, but nothing that I was unaware of or uncommitted to before drinking heavily on new years eve. I will continue to be more budget conscious, as I have been since this last autumn. I will continue working on attaining a point where I may consider myself a self sufficient adult and independently functional societal unit--lofty goal though that may be. I am going to try and stay in shape, convincing myself that I hate all junk food, one item at a time, and I am staying on top of my regimen. I get my own place when I graduate.
I am getting that tattoo. Don't think for one second that I have forgotten...
All much the same, none of it revolutionary.
Ordinarily, this is where I would go on at great length detailing my personal angst and psychoses for the enjoyment of the reader, but really more for my own enjoyment.
I don't think I will this time.
Suffice to say, I am modestly frustrated with myself on several points, none of which anyone will get to hear, and I am excessively well pleased with myself on so many points that it is disgusting.
Growing up has taken me rather longer than it should, but I am getting there bit by bit; it is funny how you can feel the priorities shift.
Tattoos get higher priority when you are a grown-up, right?
Seriously though, the number of felt needs has kind of plummeted, and even Starbucks intake has dropped by over fifty-percent. I also bought almost no new clothes, which is unheard of for me. I also learned how to use the library in lieu of my debit card to procure books, which I feel is also a very valuable life skill. Over the course of my summer break, not only did I rediscover our lovely downtown, but I remembered how much more pleasure I get out of the little things.
Ok, so I also get greater joy out of evenings at the bar, which is kind of expensive, but we can balance this. We got this.
Bottom line though, I have rediscovered the importance of places, people, and my own mindset over stuff as far as contentment goes. Do not get me wrong, nice stuff is, well, nice, but it is a garnish, not a main dish.
Isn't that just special? It sounds like it could have come off a Pinterest board full of yoga positions you will never use and nominally uplifting sayings. But not really. Those things bug the snot out of me. They all proffer the reader the secret to happiness, which in the world they are written in, is to be strong, independent, and not give a shit about what anyone else thinks. Be at peace with yourself and who you are. Don't go changing yourself for anyone else. You do you, and don't worry about the haters. Blah. Blah. Blah.
How empty. How sad.
Congratulations. You have held everyone who could possibly hurt you at bay. You are your own person. Are you happy with yourself in your own inaccessibility?
I admit, I go through my phases in which I place different amounts of value on different things, but my experience, which I will allow is limited, is that, when I go through a stuff phase, the more stuff I get, the more I hone my image and persona, the more I look for my patterns of consumption to bring me satisfaction, the farther from sated, the farther from satisfied, the farther from happy, I am. Each new novelty just means that I want more novelty.
More than that; what memories do you have of the great times you and your stuff have had? When was the last time your stuff made you laugh? Not likely.
Fine, say the pinteresters: you need to be enough on your own. Don't be materialistic. Get into nature.
Better, I say. I love nature; I spend as much time in the open air as I can, and I find that I can easily spend a few hours lying out in the grass under the sun, or several whole days hiking through woods and over bluffs. But while I enjoy these things, I enjoy them even more when I have other people to do them with.
Now, I am not a confirmed extrovert by any means, but I have long since become accustomed to the idea that people are not an optional thing for my sanity; I need people. And, guess what? If I need people, you probably need people, too.
I am happiest when I get to spend time with the people I love; friends and family. Granted, there are times when I love being with them more than others, but life is undeniably fuller and richer with them there.
To push those people away. To keep them at arms length. To let no one in but yourself. That is not strength; it is cowardice. And, again, underneath all of that armor that you have built up for yourself, how does it feel to be alone?
There is no yoga pose, greek yogurt, or 90 day glute routine that can make you happy. In fact, I hate to break it to y'all, but there is no guarantee of happiness or any secret to get you there. You will probably spend a good portion of your life dissatisfied with both your yogurt and your glutes. But it does not end there, because we are all getting old, dying, and not only does our yogurt suck, but our clothes will be out of mode in mere months, if they still fit. Yeah, your shades are pretty awesome; I'm sure that will be a great comfort to you as you face your lengthening years alone. You are safely cocooned in your self-sufficiency, where no one can hurt you.
We are so proud, that we would rather deny ourselves and cut ourselves off from what we want, rather than risk rejection. If we pretend not to care, then, at least, our dignity is preserved. We can sit comfortably aloof, and pretend that we don't want to play soccer. But the said reality is, that we have forgone the possibility of greater pleasure, for fear of getting picked last.
Is failure really so frightening?
I nearly quoted a Leann Womack song. You know the one. Close call. But the dancing metaphor really is fantastic; nowhere more room for fun...or for judgement.
In lieu of Womack, consider soccer. For those of you who have not played the game, I pity you. For those of you who have, which is more fulfilling; drilling by yourself, or playing with others? These others you bring in may ruin your perfectly choreographed maneuvers, and you will almost certainly score fewer goals in a match than in shooting practice, but it means more, because you are doing it along with others. Along the way you develop rhythms, funky rituals, animosities, and even injuries, but you will come out as a far more complete player on the other side, and even with the bad, you will have a fuller experience of the game
Yes, a wildly inadequate metaphor, and rather like comparing apples to wombats, but you get my general point. There are very few things in life that are better alone than shared. Granted, one prefers to share the things with someone else who can appreciate, but just because you occasionally find yourself surrounded by philistines, don't pretend that you would not like to share them.
Here, perhaps, is a better resolution: be honest.
Yes, by all means, this also means to be honest with yourself. Quit holding out hope for those 'fake' people who do not actually care about you: drive them from your life like money-changers from the temple. Bar the door against them, and purge all that nasty negative karma from your life.
But, c'mon now, be honest with yourself. If they are fake, then what are you? What was the last time you were totally open with someone? There is no one you trust that much. Hell, that is no one that I trust that much. So here we are, a bunch of lonely divas, ready to hear that all we need to be happy, is to love ourselves. The unspoken thought being that loving anyone else is just too dangerous.
Be bold and be brave. The danger is nothing next to the reward.
This is a new year, and while I find it to be much like the last year that we just left, though perhaps somewhat colder, I will assume that this year, like last year, and like every year which came before and follows after, is a perfect year to love. Admit to yourself that others matter, and then force yourself to realize that they might matter every bit as much as you do. Stop looking at them like accessories. Stop using them.
And then, when you pull it off, tell me how to do it, too.