New Year, New Me: The Anxieties Of Reinvention

Sophie Robinson

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, many of us commence the new year with the expectation that we will be better people. At one point or another we have all fallen prey to the hope of living a healthier lifestyle, achieving a better work-life balance, doing our bit for the environment, and many other idealised versions of ourselves. It’s as if we long for the wave of a wand from a fairy godmother to change the course of our lives for the rest of the year and beyond. Sophie Robinson discusses.

Unfortunately, I think most of our fairy godmothers forget to turn up on New Year’s Eve (busy transforming pumpkins, I expect). Similarly, at some point in the first few months of the year, we too forget what we had planned for the new year, or give up on our resolutions entirely.

it’s this ‘all-or-nothing’ rhetoric which seems to trick us into the illusion of failure

However, I bet that this is not due to laziness, but rather the pressure of perfection getting in the way. I think that our culture of New Year’s resolutions ends up resulting in anxiety and disappointment instead of any real, positive change in our lives.

A staggering 43% of people in the UK who did not keep their New Year’s resolution in 2015 said they failed within the first month.  After a relaxing Christmas enjoying the luxuries of freely flowing food, it is extremely difficult to transform your mindset overnight. It’s this ‘all-or-nothing’ rhetoric which seems to trick us into the illusion of failure.

After one slip-up such as a missed day at the gym, one too many Lindt chocolates, or forgetting to turn the TV off stand-by, we convince ourselves that we have not reached our goal. Then we ask: “What is the point in continuing when I can’t do this one thing right?”.

However, I also think that our need to reinvent ourselves in the New Year often doesn’t come from an internal desire, but instead from cunning advertising campaigns which convince us we must change.

I noticed on Boxing Day this year that fitness clothing company Gymshark had branded their sales with the punchline: ‘start the year in the best way possible’ – encouraging consumers to buy their products as a precursor to their new gymming lifestyle. Similarly, Healthy Mummy were promoting their weight loss challenge with special Boxing Day rates and a free three-day cleanse. I think I would miss the Lindt chocolates too much. 

you will not complete your New Year’s resolution without faults

By forcing ourselves into a highly disciplined lifestyle – especially in the cold, bleak month of January – it breeds internalised guilt and self-hatred when we fail to conform to our idealised self. When we are deceived by companies into consumerist actions, it is like putting a band aid on a bullet wound- it is not going to fix our lives entirely.

Instead, it’s important to accept that you will not complete your New Year’s resolution without faults. It is vital to protect our mental health at this time of year, and to remind ourselves that reinvention is difficult, and not entirely necessary. 

do not let the pressure of perfection convince you that you are not enough

This is not me saying that you shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions, but instead that you should be your own fairy godmother. Take control of your own destiny and create change if you want to see it in your life. However, when the clock strikes midnight, do not let the pressure of perfection convince you that you are not enough.

Sophie Robinson

Featured image courtesy of Polina Kovaleva via Pexels. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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