It’s really easy for me to get depressed on New Year’s Eve.
Not because my anxiety levels are through the roof as I scan a crowded party or bar wondering if I should kiss a stranger or just kiss the bottom of my champagne glass. Not because my heels are giving me blisters the size of a small island off the coast of Spain. Not because it’s freezing and I still haven’t managed to find the perfect “going out” coat.
It’s easy to get depressed on New Year’s Eve because I thought things would be different by now.
I spent the very same night just a year earlier dreaming up the next 365 days. I plan out my career path, my housing situation, what type of clothes I will wear, how much weight I will lose. Essentially I plot out what kind of brand new shiny person I will become over the course of the year. It’s really tempting to stare at the clock at 11:59pm and think, “I thought things would be different by now.”
To be completely honest, I thought my life would look vastly different from the present reality I find myself in. As a dreamer I love the possibilities that a new year hold for us. I firmly believe that we were designed to grow and change. But I had goals! I had plans! I had ambition. I wanted to get married, buy a house, have a career, and maybe even publish a book. But when I think about the plan I had for my life or the direction I wanted to go in I get a little upset to think that another year has passed and I’m still nowhere close to the person I wanted to be.
But that’s the quickest way to ruin 2015. Not 2016, but 2015.
I don’t know what 2015 looked like for you. Maybe you spent it grieving or looking for jobs. Maybe you thought you would be married by now. Maybe you were planning to get that promotion or finally start the family you’ve been dreaming of for so many New Year’s past. Maybe you thought you could plan everything out perfectly. Maybe it’s been a really hard season and you’re crawling across the finish line. Or hell, maybe it’s been a banger year and you feel like Adele just dropping hit after hit.
And maybe I’m writing this more for myself than for anyone else, but once upon a time someone said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I don’t want the 2015 I planned when I was 18 years old to compare to the 2015 I actually lived. I don’t want to compare my year to the year I thought I should have, or the things I thought I would’ve accomplished, or the type of person I thought I would be. When I do so I rob the entire year of the joys it brought me. When I compare 2015 to the year I envisioned then I am robbing myself of 365 days. Even if they didn’t bring me everything I thought they would they did bring me a lot.
Life is too short to steal our own days. Time, sickness, and schedules will steal plenty from us.
Because the fact of the matter is we’re exactly where we need to be. We’re in the exact job we need to have. Our relationship status is perfect for where we are. Our financial situation is precisely where we are. The friends we have, the house we live in, the car we drive, it’s all exactly where it needs to be for us to be successful.
We have everything we need within us for success.
Not just for survival, but for success. 2015 was a success because we’re exactly where we are. And just because we didn’t accomplish everything we set out to do doesn’t jeopardize the person we’ve become. Associating our accomplishments with our character sells the human experience far too short. We have everything we need within us or around us for a successful 2015. It might not have brought us everything, but it did bring us enough, and it gave us 365 more steps towards our becoming.
Overlooking 2015 places undue burden on 2016.
If we’re so consumed with comparison and disappointment of the year behind us then we will carry unmet expectations into the year ahead of us. That’s not fair for 2016. It’s just a year and that’s an awful lot to ask of it. We will ask the next year to be everything the previous year wasn’t. That’s not to say we can’t learn from our past and make some healthy changes for the future. In fact, I think our mistakes might be the best thing about this latest year.
When we make a mistake we figure out who we’re not. When we figure out who we’re not we’re infinitely closer to figuring out who we truly are.
Our mistakes aren’t regrets, they’re just redirections towards the person we’re becoming.
If that doesn’t offer us great hope for the next year then I don’t know what will. You have everything you need within you to make the next 365 days incredible. Let’s just not throw 2015 under the 2016 bus and drive away just yet. Let’s not ruin 2015 but maybe rejoice in it. No matter where you find yourself on New Year’s Eve we can all rest assured that 2015 was successful simply because it happened.
What would it look like to plan but not try to perfect the next year?