The New Year: A Decent Excuse for Rebirth and Renewal


Peter Mentekidis, Opinion Editor

Believe it or not, it’s here.

2018 is now in the books, freshly retired, as 2019 takes the stage at the top of our papers, the calendars on our walls, and the clocks on our phones.

With the New Year comes New Year traditions, namely New Year’s resolutions. The New Year is a great excuse to clean yourself up and start again. All that crap that’s happened the past 12 months (drama, breakups, tragedy, general inconvenience) just pin it all as 2018 stuff. This is 2019, a brand new year, brim-full with opportunities —  a clean slate to rebirth yourself as the person you want to be.

Instagram is flooded with the same old posts and captions: “New year, new me!”, “Bye Bye, 2018!”, or whatever else they happen to think up. These posts express as much optimism for the new year as they express negativity on the previous year.

Is anything inherently wrong with these posts as they stand? Not at all. What frustrates me about these posts is how people wait so long to rebirth themselves. If you don’t like how you look in the mirror, or how somebody treats you (or, perhaps, how you treat somebody else), or how you’re sick of people cheating, lying, or — more colloquially — “being fake,” why don’t you do something about it?

Renewal should have no waiting period. It shouldn’t, but yet, there still is. We wait until we feel like it’s just the right time to do something about it; until we either have a good excuse, or when our problems finally become far too great for us to bear. We wait until January to go to the gym and finally lose that weight we were meaning to lose since the previous January. We wait until January to try and cut off contact with that one toxic person in our lives. We wait until our abusive other half becomes intolerable.  

Rebirth should have no waiting period — if you want things to change, you either have to tackle them head-on and just do it, or just keep dodging and spinning around things until it tackles you to the ground. Never be afraid to start again, no matter the time or circumstance. Trust me, I know it’s hard. The excuses will arise: “I’ll just wait until after the holidays to lose weight,” “I’ll break up with them soon, trust me!”, etc, etc. These are all just distractions; bells, whistles and flashing lights grab your attention as you’re trying to focus on the task at hand.

But, whatever.

If the New Year is what you need to bring yourself toward self-improvement, then, by all means, take full advantage. The real problem doesn’t come from initiating change; it comes from maintaining it. Change is an old-fashioned vehicle, in a sense —  if you don’t keep it in tip-top condition, refueling it regularly, it won’t get you anywhere. I know how it feels, trust me. We all know the joke: the flood of people going into the gym in January, and conveniently forgetting to go all the time once February hits.

If we are to change, we must never forget the feeling that drove us to change. That feeling of disgust and anguish looking in the mirror, that guttural feeling of heartbreak, that pounding headache from immaturity.

Then, we must tie these feelings to the cause of these problems, not the problems themselves. We must tie the disgust with the gluttony and sloth; the guttural anxiety with sinful, rotten partners; the headache from immaturity and pettiness.

Once these ties are set, we must take these ties and apply them to our lives —  

That burger will open a door to gluttony, leading to the disgust.

That boy, he’s cute, but he’s no good. I can’t go through that anxiety again.

My friend’s texting me again; I have to ignore him, the headache will surely hurt.

These are all naturally easier said than done. It’s hard to practically put these changes and mindset into forward motion without giving up soon. However, we must do this in order to better ourselves. It’s difficult; it really is. You will relapse to your old ways, even after short success. It’s something I’ve experienced for years now. Lasting change only comes when you stretch your comfort zone much further than it once was, and refusing to let it shrink back.

On that note, I wish you all an (admittedly late) Happy New Year. I also wish you success in your endeavors to change, with little relapse, heavy motivation to keep moving forward, and the bravery to try again if failure is ever tasted.