A new year means another twelve months of trying to get things done in a timely fashion.
A new year means trying to perform improv without being in my head.
A new year means shmoozing with people I have no idea how to shmooze with.
A new year means having to put effort into looking for another house.
A new year means just another year full of trying to stop my mind from being too loud.
A new year means another opportunity to do the Paint Olympics, and Harrisburg on the Hunt.
A new year means the possibility of travel.
A new year means warm weather is coming soon.
A new year means fresh chances.
And more intentional decisions.
And better judgment.
And an arsenal of experience to battle whatever life throws into the mix.
And new friendships.
And old friendships, with new twists.
And new opportunities to grow and learn.
A new year will always be a balance scale, trying to decide the weight of its contents, swaying back and forth and measuring which is heavier, dread or hope.
My friend and I have made it a New Year’s Eve tradition to celebrate as many traditions from around the world as we possibly can. Among them are some really fun ones, like breaking plates (Denmark), throwing bread at a wall (Ireland), and burning effigies (Panama).
I’m not sure if the citizens of Panama will scoff at the way we did this, but we drew or wrote something on slips of paper, then all stood in a circle in the front yard and set them on fire. It seems silly, but it was pretty therapeutic. I wrote “anxiety” on my slip, and though I know it won’t be as easy as borrowing someone’s lighter, I hope that in some way, I can burn anxiety out of my life this year.
Coming home from the New Year’s Eve party at two in the morning, I was pretty stoked for 2018. I got home, and immediately turned to my Jar of Good Things to review the year that had just slipped out the back door. I’ve done this for the past two years, and the concept is fairly straightforward: you write down a Good Thing as it happens, and save it in a jar. It makes remembering things much easier – a lot of the events I would never have thought back on if I hadn’t been reminded of them. It also prevents you from deluding yourself into thinking you had a completely shitty year.
So I sat down, opened the jar, dumped out the Good Things, and picked one up.
It said, “Buying a house.”
There is nothing that will knock you down a peg quite like unrealistic expectations and assumptions. I did not close on my house. I wrote this memory about two weeks before the closing date, when I just assumed that everything would be on track and go smoothly. That did not happen.
And so, sometimes your Jar of Good Things will be peppered with Not So Good Things.
But just as Not So Good Things taint the experience of the Good Things, Good Things can also mask the Not So Good Things. At least, I go under the impression that they can. It’s been said that it takes sometimes a hundred Good Things to make up for just one Not So Good Thing, but it can at least happen, right?
I’m beginning to realize that the sway of the balance scale is important. I don’t want dread or anxiety or Not So Good Things in my life any more than the rest, but perhaps that is what allows me to feel when hope finally tips the scale. Perhaps having those Not So Good Things will continue to remind me to keep realistic expectations at the forefront, and keep my hopes achievable.
That is my New Year’s Resolution: to have realistic expectations in life. There have been so many times when I’ve hoped for something more, and gotten crushed by reality. And it goes the other way too – so many times I’ve assumed that terrible things will happen when realistically, it won’t be that bad.
I’ve got to stop believing that life is made up of either Really Good Things or Really Bad Things, and nothing in between. There are Things That Happen, and they may be good or bad depending on my perception of them, or even on what happens next. And even if they are bad, they’re usually not my fault (I say usually because, well, I’m human). Obviously I want to take ownership of my life, but I’ve got to stop feeling so personally responsible when things happen outside of my power. I don’t want to feel hopeless every single time someone else in Harrisburg closes on a house before I do. I don’t want to belittle myself for doing what I’m supposed to do in terms of calorie counts and still not gaining weight. I don’t want to see my failures in others’ achievements, or assume that the reason a relationship didn’t work out was because of me.
Realistic expectations. Sometimes things just happen.
Here’s to the New Year. May it be full of Good Things, and Not So Good Things, and realistic expectations of what those Things mean in my life.