I always cringe at the idea of New Years’ Resolutions. I mean, think about it- the idea that anything can be truly resolved in a year is a funny one. Often people choose the same resolution again and again and again because they still haven’t resolved the one from last year. But these are 10 ‘ideas’ of things I want to ‘achieve’ or focus on this 2nd semester and because it has a definite end period, I guess I can find some sort of peace with resolving to follow them for the next 5 months. For some the success can be measured (how many cm can my nails grow?), others I’ll just have a shot at following with no distinct measure of success or failure. So no failure, just an attempt at building my own little philosophies to get me through.
(A picture of me and my New Years’ kiss, in keeping with the theme)
- To stop biting my nails
I have always bitten my nails from since I can remember. I distinctly remember one time in my life when the cuticles went past the tips of my fingers and the pride I felt in this achievement. I’d love to feel the same sense of accomplishment again one day… I can’t remember another moment quite like it.
2. To cook more
Every time I do cook for myself or with a friend, I will sit down on the sofa in my homestay, perhaps put on Netflix and feel so settled and content and ‘at home’. Often any anxieties or stresses of the day can disappear while I have a little escapism through a film or TV episode (‘Friends’ if I don’t have much time!) and curl up with my/our food thinking “I am a culinary genius” or “I am the best chef I know” (P.S. I have even convinced some meat-eaters of the wonders of the vegetarian curry 😉 )
3. To play my violin
I felt like I was conquering America, or at least Boston, striding through the airports with a violin in my hand. Unfortunately, airport staff thought so too and I was questioned many a time on “what’s in the case?”. However, now I have an instrument with me, I need to make the most of playing it! Hoping to join an orchestra- would be great to find some chamber opportunities too, or the Breakfast and music ‘Jammin’ Toast’ sessions perhaps.
4. To get off campus to a cafe somewhere in Boston to sit and write at least once a week
Cafe study/essay writing sessions are always something I enjoy doing and also find to be incredibly productive. Perhaps the added pressure of spending $4 on a coffee spurs me on to new heights in terms of focus and output. However, I would also like to creatively write for my playwriting class and being in a neutral space will help with feeling more relaxed and inspired…at least I’m hoping so.
5. To not take it upon myself to save ALL the food waste on campus
As noble as this can be, and as appreciated as it was last term among my fellow internationals, it also became a little over-the-top, to the extent that I’d be eating the same sandwich three times over 2 days because I picked up all the ones being chucked out at the end of a Hillside shift to prevent them going to waste. But feeling a little ill by the third slightly off sandwich and not enjoying my lunch breaks actually negate the whole “not going to waste” desire, because it is going to waste in a way by not making me feel too good. Therefore, the ‘cooking more’ aim will help me to just enjoy the food more with more energy and feeling healthier and more in control in a happy, positive way. However, I will still be taking the 3 ends of the Hillside loaves that are too small for sandwiches and making my own mini loaves of bread- I’m not quite turning my back on my free supermarket I’ve developed for myself!
6. To do something more concrete about the waste on campus
Watch this space. Not sure what form this will take but there’s other people who hugely care too and I will be getting in contact!
7. To not allow myself to be crippled by my extrovertedness
I’ve realised that although I absolutely love being an extrovert and loving so many people and getting my energy from being around all the wonderful people I’m lucky enough to have in my life (cheesey but true and genuine), I have also noticed how I can sometimes turn that into a pressure to get on really well with EVERYONE. And if I struggle to click with someone, I can blame myself and my inability to be the person that the other person would get on with better, OR I’ll become frustrated by my own judgements and decisions that make me choose to not be with someone because I’m an extrovert and therefore need to be friends with everyone and with everyone ALL THE TIME… So *deep breath* because while I feel like I click with a lot of people here, there are some people I won’t be best friends with and that’s ok. Because it’s natural to get on with some people more than others. Life lesson #101.
8. Equally to be ok with spending time on my own
Being in a homestay in a suburb where no other international exchange students live, far away from all off-campus students and living on a different schedule to my non-student family can sometimes feel a little isolating. (Especially when there’s a foot of snow and it’s minus 26 degrees CELCIUS!) But I think it’s actually a really good opportunity for me to start feeling ok about (maybe even enjoying *GASP*) spending time with myself and being alone. The world’s my oyster! I could read a book, or watch something on TV or my lovely American family’s Netflix, (still yet to watch a TV series while at university so life goals..) and not feel like I need to be connected to everyone all of the time. So spending time alone also includes putting down my phone and not instantly messaging people or finding a friend to call (particularly as those I want to catch up with are long asleep by the time I’m home to relax after a day’s work)
9. To ‘do me’
“Do you boo” is a piece of wisdom from a best friend in sixth form/last years of high school that I have always under appreciated..until now! When asking myself what I want to do, I am going to actually properly think about what I want to do, not what I think I should do, or even what I should want to do. I can be old-fashioned or cliche or extra or nerdy and all the above options are ok. Cause they are parts of me that I want to just celebrate with no inhibitions anymore.
(To be completely honest- I want to be a fairy)
10. To make the absolute most of being in America for another semester!
The other day, walking round in -15 degrees, it suddenly hit me (the wind chill was FREEZING)- I’m in America again! Because I’m on the other side of the world, in a different time zone, saying that I wear pants and walking on a sidewalk all over again- and how lucky am I to be studying at an American college for another semester?! So I’m just going to enjoy it, build on friendships from last term, learn more both inside and outside the classroom, challenge myself to be spontaneous, AND make plans, go travelling, find myself and lose myself all over again, and be truly myself …only in the US.
P.S. This month I have been participating in RED January, doing some form of exercise every day in a way that is beneficial for my mental health. Giving myself time to do something for myself has always been something I know is important but don’t always prioritise. If you would like to donate, below is the link for my just giving page. 1 pound or dollar can go a long way and help motivate me for the second half of this month, particularly when trekking through the snow counts as my daily exercise (my legs ache from the effort!)
All proceeds go to MIND: the UK mental health charity