Personal Column: New year, same me


Source: qmelie Via Pinterest

Fireworks with friends on New Year’s Eve Source: qmelie Via Pinterest

I’m not sure how the calendar was made. I remember learning about the Egyptians in my sixth-grade world history class. In 1500 B.C., they measured time with sundials. Their years were not marked by gridded calendars with shirtless firemen, but instead, daylight. I don’t really know if they even knew what years were. Maybe, they were satisfied with the day. Maybe, they were content with the fact that they made it through the sun rising and setting, and that was all that mattered. 

3…2…1…Happy New Year!

Ryan Seacrest’s voice drones through the TV as the fireworks outside blaze and pop and the rim of my champagne flute catches the LED glare of the screen. Unfortunately, we aren’t in 1500 B.C. anymore. 

My sister has always hated everything about New Year’s. And I mean, hated. Every year, she makes her speech about how the day is rotten, spoiled with the cliché hope for becoming a “new person” in the first 24 hours of the new year. When I was young, I never quite understood why she had to be such a Debbie Downer. For a 9-year-old me, the holiday was an excuse to pretend that the sparkling Welch’s grape juice in my glass was wine, imagining myself as an elegant rich woman as I slowly took sips. My younger self saw my sister as a pessimist, an edgy teen who simply was choosing to be, well, an edgy teen. But now, I’m the teenager, and I’ve grown to realize that my sister wasn’t trying to be negative, but rather, realistic. She graduates college this spring. That means that this summer, she’ll be an adult. This fall, she’ll be working at the National Institute of Health as a researcher. I don’t know if she knows what her life will look like come winter. It’s a big year for her, full of excitement and hope. But I wonder if on January 1, 2023, as the clock struck midnight, she still hated New Year’s.

I don’t blame her anymore. But I don’t blame myself for how I saw her as a kid. As a kid, I saw the world in colors. We all do. As kids, we see fireworks—luminous streaks of color against a dark sky—the bubbles rising to the top of tall, delicate champagne flutes, golden shoots of tinsel shooting out across the air, a big, bright mirror ball slowly sinking to the ground with each passing second, until the last second comes and passes and we’re sent off to bed for the night. We see celebration. Hugs and kisses are exchanged to make up for the fact that they aren’t given enough on the other 364 days of the year (but it’s also probably just the alcohol—it tends to make adults more loving). 

New Year’s Eve in Times Square, New York City Source: Via Pinterest

And then we grow. And growing is great. We give hugs and maybe we graduate from Welch’s grape juice to alcoholic grape juice, and still, we see color. We celebrate and we feel great during the last hours of the year, and maybe even at the end of the night, we kiss someone we weren’t brave enough to kiss on the other 364 days of the year. Just like the movies, the night of New Year’s Eve becomes a glamorous night where we feel like there is no tomorrow, because if it wasn’t for the calendar, there wouldn’t be. But unfortunately for us, we aren’t in 1500 B.C. anymore, and the next morning marks the first day of the year.

January 1, 2023. It’s cloudy outside. I’m not sure if that’s a bad sign that the first day of the year is going to be filled with thunder. But I get out of bed anyway and walk down the stairs to make coffee. The TV is still on from the night before, but Ryan Seacrest is gone. I wonder if he’s tired after staying up all night. Is the first day of his year going to be filled with sleep? The commercials drone in the background as I pour my hot caffeine, and I listen.

New year, new you! 50% off all clothes, fill your closet with new styles! Time to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions here at Target today. 

It’s like I wished we could’ve stayed in those last seconds of the year forever. But everything good comes to an end, I know. And there’s something about companies, they love to feed off our insecurities, our have-yet-to-dos, whether it’s to get us to either buy a new blender or pair of shoes.

The first day back at school, my teachers all seemed to have pulled long lists of to-dos out of thin air. My mind started to race about college applications, building resumés, organizing club schedules for the new semester. Goal after goal, resolution after resolution, everything began to fall into a pile that just kept getting bigger and bigger.

That was, until I realized that I was being stupid. I realized that in the mess of New Year’s aspirations, I had forgotten about all the things I had already accomplished. And I think that’s where we mess up. That’s where my sister’s hatred came from. Sure, New Year’s Day is about hope, fresh starts and motivation for what the year will bring, but it’s also just another day. 

Another commercial began to play. This time it was Best Buy claiming that a new computer would make you a new person. So, I turned off the TV. I decided that my one resolution for the New Year was to be grateful that I got to live another 365 days.