It’s a new year

It is traditional, I know, to spend the first month of every year thinking of how you are going to spend the next 11 months. Most of us make what we fondly call New Year resolutions, even though we know – based on past experience – that they won’t even last for a few months. And more often than not, these ‘resolutions’ are all about transforming ourselves: becoming thinner; getting fitter, learning new skills, finding a new job, making more money, spending more time with the family, and so on and on and on.

There are very few people who enter the New Year feeling entirely happy about themselves and their lives. Nearly everyone thinks that they could have done better. And so, they swear that this is the year that they will be the best ever version of themselves. I guess this is the bit where I break it to you that I am not really the one for resolutions, New Year or otherwise. In fact, the older I grow the more absurd I find this universal tendency to treat the 1st of January as some sort of landmark, a red letter day if you will, which marks a new beginning. And one that we have to mark as some kind of turning point in our lives.

Well, frankly, it doesn’t feel like that to me anymore – if it ever did. I am as happy as the next person to party on New Year’s Eve. Or, if I am lucky, take off for a quiet break with my husband during the Christmas/New Year holiday. But I certainly don’t feel like a new person when I wake up on the first day of the New Year. And I most certainly don’t feel the need to reinvent myself as a new person for the New Year.

In case I am coming off as a bit too pleased with myself, let me hasten to assure you that I do not think that I am so perfect that there is no room for improvement. On the contrary, there are so many ways in which I could be a better person that if I listed them all, I would have to carry this column over to the next page (and the Brunch editor, Jamal Shaikh, would never allow me to do that).

So, I’ll just list a few of my shortcomings, just so that you know that I am not a smug so-and-so. First off, I could do with being a little more even-keeled. I don’t lose my temper very often, and when I do, I recover it rather quickly. But when I do lose my cool, I lose it quite spectacularly, and it’s not a pretty sight. There is a lot of foaming at the mouth, smoke spewing forth from my ears, and my decibel levels would put some of our North Korean anchors to shame. This storm doesn’t last long but while it does, it can seem life-threatening. So, that’s one area I could definitely improve on.

Then, there is my inability to forgive and forget. Yes, yes, I know all those clichés. Carrying a grudge against someone is allowing him/her to live rent-free in your head. You should forgive people – not because they deserve it, but because you do. But while at a rational level, I recognise the truth of this, I find it impossible to forgive those who have let me down or wronged me over the years. I guess I could try and fix this – or I could just forgive myself for being the brooding, vengeful person I am. I am still debating this one in my head.

But my most annoying (to me, at least) personality trait is my propensity to procrastinate. No matter what the task, I find a way to put it off to the last possible minute. When I was writing my book, Race Course Road, I had printed out a schedule for when I would finish every chapter, generously giving myself a couple of weeks to do that. But every day I would look at the calendar, feel a shiver go up my spine as the deadline grew nearer, and then settle down to do something else entirely. It was only when I had absolutely minimal time left did I get down to doing any work. (By the way, this column too is being written just hours before deadline!)

Could I change all this stuff about me? Perhaps. Should I work on being a better person? Maybe. Or should I just carry on being myself and to hell with the rest of the world? Well, that sounds like a plan. But what does the New Year have to do with any of that? That’s just an arbitrary line in the sand, drawn by a world that is forever looking to celebrate ‘special’ days. Life doesn’t change – and nor do you – just because a New Year dawns.

If you want to change your life or yourself, you can do that any time you wish to. But if you are happy with your life and at peace with yourself, why let the New Year make you feel otherwise?

(Journalist and author Seema Goswami has been a columnist with HT Brunch since 2004. )

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From HT Brunch, January 13, 2019

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First Published: Jan 12, 2019 19:24 IST

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