The myth of the ‘Fresh Start’

Every year at this time I start looking to the next year; I’m not a fan of new years resolutions, because I can’t keep them, but I start a general contemplation of what the year will hold.

I think its weird that one day to another can be such a huge line in the sand that indicates a fresh start. The problem though is that there isn’t really any such thing as a true fresh start – unless you get amnesia and don’t know who you are, but I doubt that would be a very satisfactory fresh start really.

The new year ‘hope’ that comes each year is the point at which I think ‘this is my chance’ but I think what I hope for is essentially a character change. The new year might open my mind up to the possibilities but it isn’t going to change who I am.

For some reason every year, I look ahead and see myself getting better, getting fit, eating healthy, staying on top of housework, and accomplishing wonders in my work. Thing is though, that I don’t think, even if I was well enough I would ever be that person. I am not really terribly ambitious, I have always erred on the side of laziness around the house, and exercise is far from the list of my favourite things.

Each year I buy into the myth that ‘this year will be different’ without actually working out how to make it so. I am so busy ‘hoping’ for change that I don’t really pause to consider what it would look like to make it happen. I mean, I do on the micro – you know, go to the gym, get healthy cooking books, write for 8 hours a week – but life is too messy for this to be sustainable on the macro.

This week I had a conversation with one of my favourite people who is starting to sink into the very familiar hole of hopelessness bought on by depression. And a couple of weeks ago I spoke to my psychiatrist who said that really he would prefer it if I stayed on my meds as my depression is recurrent and clinical and therefore likely to return on a scale similar to that of my last breakdown at some point.

For me, and my friend and so many others who are struggling to get by on the day to day level, the new year hope can actually be quite depressing. The fresh start is already slightly muddy.

Essentially I see it as looking out of the window after a fresh snow fall and seeing all this nice white snow, then getting outside and its already sludge.

Fresh starts are not really possible, we take the baggage of life and believe that it will suddenly become lighter because it is January again.

However, this doesn’t mean that new year can’t be an opportunity for hope. Looking back on the year I have had I see where things have worked and where things have gone wrong. I am more aware that my hope for change is largely based on my desire to be someone else, and so looking into 2016 I can think about how I can become more content and excited by the fact that I am just me.

This year, as I look ahead, I have the same old hope but it feels slightly less pressurised. I don’t feel that by December next year I will need to be a domestic goddess and an incredibly successful something professionally, I can look at it and hope that maybe I will grow a little here and change a little there, but maybe, most of all I can hope that I will be happier that I am me, and that being me is enough.

Now I am going to go have a drink. Happy new year!

5 Comments

  • I abandoned NY Resolutions years ago – if I want to change, I’m not waiting for some random day in the year. One of my friends posted this “there is no ‘New Me’, there is just the Developing Me that’s an On-going Project” – to which I say Amen! As you say, grow a little … and be the lovely person you are! x

  • Words from those Mormon boys, The Killers …

    “And if they drag you through the mud
    It doesn’t change what’s in your blood
    (Over chains)
    When they knock you down
    Don’t break character

    You’ve got a lot of heart
    Is this real or just a dream ?
    Be still, Be still
    Be still, Be still.”

    And for God’s sake don’t worry about not being ambitious. James 3 verse 16 (New English Bible version) :- ‘For with jealousy and ambition come disorder and evil of every kind.’

    Jamie

  • I’ve received similar medical advice about staying on anti-depressants to avoid huge dips in mood. This was a bit of a shock to start off with, but I’ve come to accept that the meds are a good practical tool which help me cope with day-to-day life.
    I hope you have a good year

  • Just to let you know – it was a great help to sit and read your reflections “to myself” – yet again you have the gift of sharing words that articulate just how I feel and I don’t always find it easy to articulate exactly how I feel ) – so thank you for the “gift”

  • Hi Katharine,

    As we head towards the end of the first month of the year at breakneck speed, I’m hoping that your hopes of gradual change are coming to fruition. Hopes of just a little here and a little there, of being chipped away at to make us into servants of God, those who He can be proud of, while being spared and protected against the blows that can and will break us.
    I am greatful to have Christ Jesus, I wouldn’t last one single second without Him. I am greatful and excited of you just being you, and can assure you that you are enough, wish you could see your fullness and realise it without doubt or thought.

    Much love
    Gary

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