Photo from Carol VanHook/Flickr
By Carly Gassman
For those truly ambitious, high-achieving, trail-blazer types, the new year represents not only a fresh calendar page but an opportunity to meticulously synthesize, work towards and eventually actualize their goals.
Contrary to the notion that everyone functions this way and feels a compulsion to always meet a higher standard of self, I believe there is a silent majority of alleged “go-getters” who have been swept up in the current.
Perhaps you are entirely content with yourself and don’t want to change anything about who you are or what constitutes your life. More likely, you are among the many who feel so utterly strangulated by the enormity and quantity of their problems that to even attempt to classify them by importance or attainability would be a farce, and so choose nothing to improve about themselves and simply let the day pass unnoticed, as any other calendar date would.
But then there is the persistent nose of socialization. Friends, family, coworkers and even strangers all prying cordially into the very core of your existence.
I’ve never understood how asking someone what they intend to improve about themselves in the coming year, which is generally the worst and most blackening sin, is considered a mundane pleasantry, so universally accepted that cashiers and retail workers are prompted to use it as an ice breaker. “Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?”
You could be alone, in which case concocting a lie is a no-brainer. “Learn piano” is acceptable. But the stakes are higher when you’re in front of others. You might not want to ruin your image, come across as classless and self-deprecating or, worse, egotistical and vain.
When you find yourself sandwiched in one of these situations, scanning your brain for any relevant flaw to mention that might seem plausible to fix, don’t fear. There are a few easy tricks to appearing like you’re on the ball and ready to tackle a new year.
Here are five realistic new year’s resolutions:
1.) Go With The Last Guy
If you and several others have just been asked a dreaded group question, don’t allow yourself to freeze up. You may be intimidated, watching the mouths of your friends move in slow motion, one by one down the line, easing out cultured and sensitive replies, meanwhile you, have been meaning to stop eating whole bags of Cheetoh’s at 3 a.m.
Even worse, you know that won’t happen. You can’t very well admit that you’re irresolute in your behaviors and passively allow the bad to go unchecked, what do you do?
If little Suzy just said she’s going to finish organizing the doll-clothes in her Barbie Dream House set, so are you. If it’s an extremely novel and mutually exclusive resolution, one that seems in contrast to your character, it’ll lighten the mood. Even better, if it’s a generic goal (“be more peaceful”), you’ll likely make it out unscathed.
2.) Read Between the Lines
Be vague! Suppose you really do have a resolution but it’s personal or embarrassing, and you don’t feel comfortable sharing it. Do a little verbal trimming, and get out the essence of the oath, circumnavigating the hairy details. If, for instance, you want to alleviate your chronic constipation, tell your friends you “need to learn to let loose.” Nothing false there.
3.) Careful Language Selection
If you’re wise about your employment of the English language, you can construct sentences so complex that multiple meanings can be derived from them. You don’t need to be a rhetorical guru, however, to twist a phrase. “Eat fewer peanuts” is a lot more do-able than “stop eating whole cans of honey roasted peanuts every night.” And the difference is negligible! Hardly noticeable.
4.) Right Under Your Nose
Be rude. Throw yourself under the bus. If your food baby hasn’t dissipated since Thanksgiving, be honest. (This is dependent on the company you’re in. Don’t be a self-deprecating comic martyr just for the sake of it in front of complete strangers. If your audience would enjoy it and you feel comfortable, open up!)
Saying, “I should probably work on getting rid of my seventh chin,” will surely shut up any intrusive people who really just want to share their own resolutions.
5.) Don’t Be Rude
Remember the reason for the season. It is the holidays after all, and even though many of us have graduated from Grinch to Krampus, it is still expected that we not ruin others’ fun.
That being said, I fully realize the temptation to scream in someone’s face that you are “fine the way you are!” as they pry into your resolutions (or lack thereof) and wait expectantly for you to inquire about theirs. Consider it your one good deed for the day and hold your tongue. Use the aforementioned methods to concoct a quick and easy resolution, dish it out, and get on your merry way.
The desire to run and hide when someone nudges into the intricacies of your self-esteem is innate and universal, but it’s something we must all unfortunately confront regularly in this world. Rather than cocooning yourself in your insecurities and refusing to respond (“there’s nothing wrong with me”), the tools I referenced above can be utilized to maintain your social skills while simultaneously protecting your vulnerabilities.
May you have a genuinely happy New Year and achieve anything you set out for yourself, or nothing at all!