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The One Word I’m Replacing ‘Resolutions’ With This New Year

The New Year has only just begun, and I have already witnessed people’s determination to “do right” by their resolutions for 2016 — gym memberships are skyrocketing and it has never been so crowded, restaurant goers are waiving dessert and choosing salad over steak, parents stating they will show more patience toward their toddlers, couples vowing to spend more time together rather than staying late at work, friends working to be there for each other regardless of distance, and people posting on social media that in order to be more present in their lives they will be unplugging more frequently.

Everyone is putting forth effort to make positive changes by doing things they believe will enhance their lives. They are reminded to do this once a year. I have to do this every day.  

The so-called “New Year’s resolution” is not an annual extravagant goal for me but a regular occurrence in my life. There is little fanfare that goes with it, and often as I master one item I have resolved to complete, I add another to the list. My life is hard, unfair and cruel, sometimes more than what others might experience. There are so many “big” things to work on when you have multiple intertwined mental health issues. My goals and resolutions may be similar to the ones other people make each year, but more often than not they are specific to the daily challenges I face and the way I see myself. For me, there is always another hurdle, another mountain to climb, another unmarked road to travel, and it is my resolve that continues to get me through in one piece.

Through all my grit, determination, and resilience, there is one thing that I have always struggled to do — really allow myself to see how far I have come. 2015 has probably been my most stable and healthiest year, and yet as midnight hit, all I could think of was how I needed to do more to be better, better than myself. So I’m turning the “New Year’s resolution” on its head. These are my “New Year’s reflections.”

I completed a graduated program, had a job created for me, didn’t stay overnight in a hospital, had 365 days of 100 percent medication compliance, have begun to love all of who I am, have gone geographically and socially outside my comfort zone, have climbed out of the darkest of places in my head, brought myself down from the highest highs and so much more.

Sometimes it can be hard for me to feel proud of these things that for me have been such a struggle to achieve but for others are just part of the daily grind. My path has not been straight nor has it been what I have expected. This year I realize that any further navigation will depend on my ability to look back at the path behind me. The detours haven’t stopped me, and I am sure there will be more. Most of the accomplishments I mentioned are things that a year or two ago I never imagined I could ever achieve. They were so “big” I couldn’t even picture them; the images just wouldn’t come. 

I would be naïve to believe my good year means I can stop doing the work. But it remains true that I can’t resolve to do anything to better my life without reflecting back on what I have accomplished. I am so immensely hard on myself. And I have come a long, long way.

Ariel outdoors with the ocean in the background
Ariel outdoors with the ocean in the background