I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kinda woman.
I used to be. I can still feel the distant call of the ‘I must lose 100LBs this year,’ but I silence it with another Ferro Roche.
Some years I hear the distant thrum of ‘I should do more exercise,’ or the pull of ‘I’ll swim the channel,’ – even though I haven’t swum in years.
I ignore these calls and grandiose claims.
A self-fulfilling prophecy, New Year’s Resolutions always felt full of self-recrimination – ‘should do better,’ stamped through every unrealistic declaration like my life was needing an upgrade. We see ourselves as projects that need to be improved, worked on sweated upon, trimmed and cut.
That is not the story I want.
‘We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one,’ to quote the 11th Doctor.
I used to teach self-esteem and confidence classes to young people. I’d get them to draw a giant circle on a piece of paper. The paper was massive, and I loved seeing these teens lying on the floor drawing like they were little kids again. I’d get them to draw a little version of themselves in the centre of their bubble.
In their circle or bubble, all around that little stick them, I’d get them to write down all the people that made them feel good. Sometimes that was hard, but most could think of people who made them feel important or special.
Then I’d ask them to think of all the things they were good at – it didn’t have to be big things – it could be anything, – playing computer games, making the perfect cup of tea, being a good friend.
And then I’d ask them to write down all the things that made them happy. All the things they liked doing. Anything that made them smile, big or small, – the smell of their favourite dinner, the feel of new socks, playing with the dog, riding their bike.
Nearly always, young people could fill their bubble with all the things that made them happy. All the things that made them strong.
And that’s the thing.
When our bubble is full of all the things that make us happy, its walls are thick, and it is jam-packed. When life throws crap at us, when we are having a rough day or struggling, it is a little easier to navigate when our bubble is full. We are insulated. The crap, like little rubber arrows, simply bounces off our bubble.
When our bubble feels empty – not that it necessarily is empty – but feels empty. When the sides are deflating and thin it is easier for life’s difficulties to get through, overwhelm us and wear us down.
Life can be difficult. For some of us harder than others. This isn’t about blaming people for struggling. But working with those young people I wanted to show them ways to keep their bubble full, to keep the walls of their bubble taught and tight, filled as it was with all the things that made them happy, as a way to help ride out the harder times.
What would be in your bubble? What makes your heart sing? What are you good at? What or who would you like more of?
Maybe that could be our New Year’s Resolution.
Maybe that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are about – not big grand gestures, but searching for more that makes you happy. Maybe, instead of diets or plans to do more, or climb Everest by Wednesday, maybe we could focus on filling our bubbles with all the things that bring us joy.
Maybe instead of seeking to reinvent ourselves as something better, as something shinier, something thinner, maybe what we need to do is see that we are already good enough.
Now that would be a story to tell.