With the end of each year comes hope and enthusiasm for what the upcoming year will bring. For most people, the new year is a time of reflection and goal setting, what we like to refer to as new year resolutions. In the Western world this is a very popular tradition. Thousands of people decide to adjust their life, whether it be at work, in their relationships, or with themselves. Year after year there continues to be some popular new year resolutions: exercise and eat healthier, pick up a hobby, read more, and travel more to name a few.
New year resolutions are meant to empower us to change. Their purpose is to fulfill us and make us happy. Identifying areas of improvement is good. In fact, if we never set goals for ourselves, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. Goals motivate us to constantly make ourselves better, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, something about new year resolutions signifies stagnancy and unhappiness. If we just lost a little bit of weight or saved up a bit more money, then we would be complete. Despite the allurement of new year resolutions, setting large and often unachievable goals only once a year is not realistic. When we don’t achieve these dreams, we tend to be even more unsatisfied. This probably explains why we see the same resolutions each year.
After making multiple failed attempts with new year resolutions, I asked myself why I couldn’t stick to my goals. Was I just lazy? Was I too busy? Neither. The true reason I never achieved any of my past new year resolutions was because I never made them for me, I made them for other people. I just didn’t care enough to follow through. We live in a social world of constant judgment always comparing ourselves to others. I realized that each resolution I was making was to change me into someone that would be accepted and loved by the world around me. I was looking to the world to make me happy rather than looking inside myself, and more importantly rather than looking to God. Did I really care that I was carrying a bit of extra weight or that I haven’t travelled much outside of Canada? No, but these traits were desirable to the world and therefore it somehow mattered. The empty promises I was making to myself each year were only making me feel worse about myself. I decided that I was no longer going make the same superficial goals each year.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have a goal for the new year, because I certainly do. However, I plan on making resolutions that won’t change me into someone new, but enhance the person I already am. Going into the new year, I plan to love myself more, accept who I am in this very moment, and remind myself of who I am in Christ. It’s true what they say: you are your worst critic. I realize that it’s okay to want something better for yourself, but it’s equally okay if you fail. Self-development is a process, it isn’t a 365-day guarantee, but the important thing is that we remember to love ourselves through it. Who I am right now, is who I am meant to be right now. There is no shame in being a work-in-progress. In fact, there is something so beautiful about recognizing that you are still growing and becoming more complete each and every day. Slow and steady wins the race. Still, it’s normal to feel lost and unworthy at times, especially when we compare ourselves to the success of others. We can’t help it, we’re human. But I recognize that Christ sees my value and knows my purpose, whether I succeed in worldly tasks or not. I am a child of God, the daughter of the King who rules over the earth and the heavens. When the world wants to outcast or deny me, God never will. He has called upon me, by name, knowing the inner depths of my soul. I am good enough just as I am. I have something unique to offer. At the end of the day, the world’s opinion of me doesn’t matter. The world’s opinion of you doesn’t matter. This is something I will hold onto. Hopefully you will too.
This year, instead of changing myself, I plan to just love myself. Simple. Well, not so simple and definitely not easy, especially in the world we live in. However, because I am choosing to make this goal for myself rather than for others, it is surely a goal I can stick to. Aspiring for better is important to grow; however, it’s crucial to remember your inherent worth throughout the process. Whether you achieve your goals, change your goals, or decide to give up, choosing to love yourself is going to make all the difference.
This year, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. We are all valuable just as we are.
Brittany is a graduate student at Brock University in the Social Justice and Equity Studies program. She is studying public alternatives to private veterinary care in Canada and the potential benefits to low-income citizens and their animals. Brittany is passionate about human and animal rights, her family and friends, and most of all her dog, Ryder. When she isn’t studying Brittany enjoys hiking, exploring new cuisine, and watching the Friends series on repeat.