New Year, Worse Me?


Call me conventional but I’ve always been a fan of a nice beginning, middle, and end. It’s maybe not the most relaxed of my personality traits, but I like to know where I am within the bounds of a linear time frame, and I like a deadline. Having recognised that about myself I’ve had two thoughts: 1) it’s possible that I need to get out more, and 2) I’m beginning to understand why I consider New Year’s Eve so important. It’s not that it’s an excuse for a party (see thought 1), but that it’s a useful mechanism for slicing life up into manageable chunks. 

If #NewYearNewMe is anything to go by, I’m not alone. Lots of us like to be able to close a door on a chapter. We wrap up our work commitments, then our Christmas presents, then our bodies in swaddling like we’re all playing baby Jesus in the nativity play. And just as we fester on the sofa watching our fifteenth period drama of the season so too does the year stagnate. Like unbrushed teeth after a big night out, everything gets a bit furry.

It’s all well and good to have a rest after a busy year. And as for feeling stale, it’s absolutely normal to feel like a grandpa with halitosis when you’re repping the diet of Henry VIII. Personally, I consider it a belated Christmas miracle that I haven’t got gout. It's possible, though, that I started the most recent relaxation period a bit early last year. From around mid-November I was operating a simple two-tier system. Short, simple tasks I could complete with ease? Gimme. Longer, more involved projects that would require me to use my brain? No point wasting that on this version of myself. 

Sure, I was leaving myself with quite a lot to do in a short space of time, but that was okay. All I needed was that midnight chime on New Year’s Eve, and I'd be minty fresh and ready for whatever challenges 2018 could bring. I waited, patiently, to be bibbety bobbety booped into the best version of myself, incandescent with excitement at the prospect of transforming into a Forbes-listed business woman and a Pulitzer-winning writer with a wardrobe to match and a fringe that never went floppy. I fell asleep, warmed by the prospect of things to come.

In the biggest plot twist since Bruce-Willis-is-a-ghost, I woke up the exact same me. Even my attempts to stay sober by chilling with my parents for the evening had ended with us drinking a bottle of prosecco each and singing Adele into each other’s faces until we all cried. I arose hungover and horrified to discover that the only change I’d undergone was that, in addition to the Christmas weight that I’d merrily piled onto my arse (no regrets), I was also the bearer of the enormous burden of expectation. According to my own schedule, I had four events to plan, a podcast to produce, seven pieces per week to write, and I was still the old me. 

So, as you might imagine, I’ve spent the past two and half weeks crippled by anxiety. Not because the goals I’ve set myself are totally out of the realm of possibility, but because I’d become comfortable with the nice little temporal barrier keeping me from having to tackle them. Now that I’m in 2018, I’m on their territory, and it’s been difficult to hold my ground. My first instinct has been to back down altogether. No Pulitzer? No problem. I’ve got a fringe to attend to anyway. 

But really, it doesn’t make any sense to be afraid of doing projects I literally fabricated myself. Instead of combating my goals, I’ve started to enjoy finding out more about how I can work with them. Do some of those research sessions end with me doing a quiz to find out what kind of soup I am? Let me answer that simply by saying broccoli and stilton. But have other sessions led me to accrue some vital information, and to exchange emails with experienced business women with who’ve offered me kind advice? Yeah, I guess they have. 

So 2018 hasn’t been amazing so far, but it was never going to be, not in the first two weeks. I guess I’m just going to have to bibbety bobbety boop myself into a new version of myself all on my own. No rush though. Today I’m focusing on the bibbety, the rest can come later. 

Follow Anna on Twitter @annaerichmond