For a holiday called the “New” Year…I, for one, tend to spend a significant amount of time sifting through memories of the past. I think about where I was one, five, years ago–who I was with, loved, what I wanted to do given a fresh start in the coming year. I’ve made resolutions in the past. Usually regarding my (lack of) organizational skills, weight, disposition towards others… but they seem to be forgotten eventually. I don’t feel that I need to sit down and think of a list of resolutions anymore. Lose fifteen pounds, eat less junk food, stop swearing. They are meaningless when not paired with reflection and serious contemplation of faults. Besides, why limit yourself to thinking about ways to improve your life merely once a year?
And no matter how carefully you calculate your resolutions, plan for the new year, and map out your life–the unexpected happens. One day you could be thinking about your significant other and how you will spend this first new year’s eve together, and in the blink of an eye, you are alone again. Putting so much weight on the future could leave you sorely disappointed when circumstances change. Above all, I resolve not to be disheartened by things that are out of my control. You cannot will someone into loving you, and more importantly, you cannot stop loving yourself when someone else says they don’t. Do not lose hope.
Comfort finds you even in the darkest of places. Friends who you may have lost touch with over the years, surprise you with their compassion. Although I did not get the midnight kiss from a devastatingly handsome stranger on New Year’s Eve I had hoped for, I was warmed with playful kisses on the cheek from Amy and Sarah. Hotel ZaZa’s “Heaven and Hell” Party was overcrowded, elitist, and awkward, but what I will treasure from the night is the drinking of wine and playing of card games in our own hotel room. Laughter and honesty, the realization of time passed, and the spark of inspiration that reignites the bonds of friendship are infinitely more priceless than a cheap kiss or champagne toast. Amy and I had not seen each other in over two years. Sarah and I are in more contact than some best friends who live far apart, but there is still so much of our individual lives that are separate. It was wonderful to reminisce about the past, while sharing appreciation for the strong women we have become. And in the aftermath of my latest heartbreak, they were there to remind me that I am loved.
In the hotel elevator, we discussed our “great loves.” We laughed at our younger selves. I felt a surprising contentment wash over me. Even though I am entering the new year alone for the first time in three years, had my heart broken twice in one year, and fell in love unrequitedly after vowing that I would never again say I love you again unless it was mutual, I realized that this is just my nature. I thought of my favorite Anais Nin quote. The only abnormality is the incapacity to love. I have been a hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember. Sarah chose a high school crush as her first great love, while there was no question in my mind that I found my first love as far back as sixth grade. Remembering the beauty of being unjaded and how happy I was to argue about “swing stealing” and be called a power hungry witch, made me long for the courage and capacity for love I possessed in my young age. Where there was no anticipation of heartbreak, only a rush of excitement to wake up every morning and hear someone’s voice.
Instead of making a resolution this year to change, I want to find a way to keep from letting pain, disappointment, and heartache change me. To hold on to the self that believed in love and the goodness of others, without fear of what opening up my heart will let into my life. Be bold. Not to strive to be the person others want me to be, but surround myself with people who see and love the real me. Remind myself, the woman, of the girl who was not afraid to call someone egotistical if they deserved it, even when that someone was the object of their affection and seemingly out of her social league. The girl who, in high school, confessed her feelings to the football player before he moved, even though she was an awkward and unattractive choir geek. I want to remain trusting and loving–not made paranoid and insecure by lies spoken to me in the past.
Of course, failure to acknowledge areas of myself that need improvement would be an unforgivable oversight. However, I’ve learned by rereading old new years resolutions, that these require time. A new year will not automatically mean a new Stephanie. I guess it’s not so much that I need resolutions, as I do reminders of things I see in myself everyday that could be better, despite what year it is. So, I will not tell myself I need to lose fifteen pounds this year. I’ll remind myself, instead, to be infinitely more kind, more courageous. Open myself up without suspicion that every person I meet might hurt me. Be surprised, not skeptical. Be good to friends, family, loved ones, and fair to those who do not fall under those categories because they fell short of my expectations in the past. Contribute to making the world a place in which I would be proud to live. Fight for the underdog, the marginalized, and myself. Reflect when called for, but do not get lost in the past.
Hope for the future–no matter what it might bring.