The beginning of January is a blank slate. A time where we feel a sense of excitement as to what the year will bring. As each year rolls into a new one, my hopes for the future have included the usual – more exercise, more travel, more greens… Typically, I fail to keep to my promises. I asked my family and friends if they manage to stick to their resolutions. They don’t either. It doesn’t help that we live in a society obsessed with success. There's a fine balance between dreaming big and setting oneself up for a fall.
I keep a box of my favourite poems, letters, old journals and unfinished stories. Within these stamps of the past, I can see paths not taken, disappointments, failures and mistakes. It is out of this box that my resolutions are often formed. What can I do differently that I failed to do last year? How can I be better? As I look to the year ahead, instead of trying to do more and be more, I have decided to let some things go.
One habit I want to break is the unwanted thoughts that sometimes occupy my mind. I’m a worrier and like many of us, especially in these Covid times, this can lead to unnecessary panic. Recently I went to a pre-Christmas family lunch. I took a lateral flow test beforehand, which was negative, but in the car on the way home I started to feel feverish. I felt a rush of dread. Had I unknowingly infected my family, just before Christmas? My mind went into overdrive. What about my seventy-six-year old mum whose recently had a health scare? It would be all my fault and I would be the one to blame and shame.
Simultaneously, my dog, Budgie, began vomiting all over the car. Had I somehow poisoned her too, or is my driving really that bad? With my head full of thoughts, I wound down the window as Budgie continued throwing up all the way back to London.
I tested again when I returned home. It was positive and my hysteria grew. My ever calm and rational husband reminded me that I didn’t go anywhere near my mum. There was none of the usual hugging. Ultimately these thoughts of harming my family were unfounded – the socially distanced gathering paid off. What about the dog?! Google – ‘Can dogs get covid?’… Come on now, Cressida, you’re being totally irrational.
After episodes like these, I have adjusted my approach towards 2022. Instead of promising to grow more attractive character traits or greater ambitions, perhaps we can give up certain things that are no longer making us happy – like putting unnecessary worries to one side. Leaving something behind that no longer serves us might give room for trying something new.