2019 is the year you’ll finally make good on those “new year, new you” resolutions, right? Like many, a part of me always wants to start the year off with a list of things to accomplish by the end of the year. However, and seamlessly without fail, the last several years of resolutions have ended in utter disaster. Remember last January when I set generic goals like “drink more water” and “be mindful of what I put in my body?”
While both are still worthwhile “goals” to strive for on a daily basis, a few weeks later I did the exact opposite of what I had planned to do. I didn’t eat anything (with minimal water intake) for two weeks following the breakup of a five year relationship. I’m not sure how I subsisted at the start of that last semester of law school, but the sheer stress of it all, coupled with pre-existing health issues, landed me in the hospital.
My body had deteriorated so badly, I couldn’t even sit through the hospital intake exam (ya know, where they take your temperature, ask about your symptoms, etc.). It was then and there that I had this “ah-ha” moment.
I was so drained I couldn’t physically exert any more tears. It was in that hospital bed that I realized something: resolutions or not, the only thing that gets you through a tough situation is your attitude.
It’s not a vision board.
It’s not an inspirational book of quotes.
It’s not how high your Instagram follower count is.
While all of these things are well and good, when all else fails, the sheer will to go on is what carries you through even the most difficult situations. In that moment, I truly felt like my world was falling apart.
The relationship that I’d known for the better part of my twenties suddenly was no more. I still had one more semester of law school left; forget about the bar exam. I couldn’t even think that far ahead. Unlike a lot of my friends, I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation. I still don’t, and that’s okay, because it’s given me time to do other things that I enjoy and probably won’t get much time for once I’m working full-time.
I felt like a complete failure, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized it took losing myself entirely to find myself completely.
The gamut of emotions I went through was nothing short of a rollercoaster, peppered with extreme highs and lows.
Let’s just say last January taught me that the only resolution worth setting each and every year is to be better than the person you were yesterday.
All of those “lose weight, go to the gym, get fit” goals go out the window when you’re hooked up to an iv and are fighting to just keep water down. It’s been an uphill battle to realize that “healthy” means something different to everyone. I’m not knocking weight-loss goals for health reasons, because if that’s important to you, more power to you. I’m just saying sometimes that occasional handful of cookies isn’t worth stressing about.
To people who deal with chronic health issues, sometimes that “healthy” food your favorite blogger talks about on every InstaStory is actually inflammatory to you and can render a flare that lasts several days.
Sometimes that gym sesh to make up for all those holiday carbs could actually be more harmful than helpful, because you don’t realize how hard you’ve pushed yourself on the treadmill, and by the time you’re onto the next exercise you’re nauseous and dizzy.
Sometimes that body image you have in your head of “goals” actually isn’t ideal because bodies change over time and that’s normal; hell, that’s healthy because sometimes the same number on the scale looks and feels very different depending on your diet and exercise routine. Sometimes it’s okay to not have the same body you did at twenty as you do now at thirty.
Sometimes it’s okay to say “fuck social media, no one looks like that all the time,” because it’s true.
In the last week, I’ve read more posts than I can count by bloggers I’ve followed for quite some time (some over the last year, others since they first started their social media presence)…and they’ve all said the same thing: social media is a dangerous game. You want to be honest and build an authentic platform, but how honest is too honest?
I’m probably at one end of the spectrum with many of my posts falling under the “too honest” category, while others are at the opposite with feeds that honestly look “too perfect.” All of those pictures of room service in bed aren’t as carefree as they look.
They don’t look carefree.
Typically if you’re ordering room service (which is a luxury in and of itself), you’re in your pajamas, no makeup, and bedhead. Otherwise you’d be downstairs at the hotel restaurant or out and about at a cute cafe, all dressed up. But somehow, through the twisted rabbit hole that has become social media, people think full makeup, a table full of beautiful food, and the whole sha-bang is normal.
People think these influencers live in magazine-worthy homes, when in fact many actually rent locations for photoshoots, wear clothes and jewelry they have to return to the brands who lent them, and spend hours curating a look that may or may not get promoted by the latest and greatest social media algorithm.
So what’s the point of this long-winded rant? Well, for me to tease out thoughts that new year’s resolutions are total crap and to reminded myself (and maybe others reading this) to pay more attention to real life instead of what goes on online.
Sure, social media is great for sharing ideas (can’t tell you how many creative recipes I’ve found), not to mention finding support for things people may not otherwise know about (shout out to all the cool kids I’ve learned so much from about coping with chronic living).
But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
In an age of endless online scrolling, I think we run a dangerous game of letting online overshadow real life. How many sunsets have you just sat there and enjoyed the grandeur of without feeling that pang to pull out your phone and document it on the ‘gram?
I’ve been guilty of this too; getting too caught up in curating my life online instead of the one I’ve got in-person.
That’s a resolution I’m trying to work on this year, and in the years moving forward.
I’ve had social media since I was in high school, and I know for younger generations, it’ll be a lot longer for them by the time they hit my age (and I’m not even thirty yet). I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t get caught up in the hoopla of setting unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Take time to unplug this year and do things in real life that make you happy. Call a friend just to say “hello.” Set aside time to make that recipe that’s been pinned on your account since forever. Leave your phone at home and enjoy a night out with friends (unless it’s your Uber, and then just set it on airplane mode until it’s time to go).
Make this year one that, when you look back on it in December, you’re proud of all that you’ve done (or didn’t do). Be intentional with your words and actions, but above everything else, take challenging situations in stride.
That’s it for now. It’s back to real life for me!