Do I have to be happy about another year?
There is this unwritten law that at the beginning of a new year, we look forward to another year ahead.
We make goals or resolutions.
We feel a sense of anticipation of what may unfold before us.
But it’s not always like that. It’s not always an enjoyable experience.
Sometimes (actually maybe always) the ticking of the clock, the striking of twelve, brings with it nothing but the change of date and time. We wake up the next day and everything is the same, except for the year.
Maybe that’s how you’re feeling this year? Maybe that post about setting goals, intentions and words of the year irked you?
That’s OK. I’m here to say it’s OK not to be excited about the year ahead. It’s OK to dread it, to wish it was over already, to want to go back to the year before or ahead, you know, maybe five years or so. It’s OK. It’s OK to feel like that.
It’s OK to feel however you feel, both about this and about anything. You are allowed to feel your feelings. It’s what we do with them that matters.
If you’ve just spent the first 4 days of the year trying to look “forward”, trying to imagine your year, and that makes you want to cry or hide in a blanket fort, know you are not alone. When things are hard in life, when the year before has been challenging, or you know you’ve got some challenging times ahead, it’s normal not to be super excited about what might be coming. It really is OK to think and feel that.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The thing we need to focus on, though, is the “what might be coming”. We don’t know what the future holds. We can’t predict what is going to happen. We can guess. We can assume. We can make calculations and educated guesses, but the truth is, none of us knows what is coming. We don’t know what the next minute holds, let alone the next few months or the whole year.
Unfortunately, there is no manual, no guidebook, no instructions. The only way of knowing what is ahead is to live through it when it comes. And that applies to both the positive and negative experiences of life.
So what do we do? How do we do this?
We take baby steps. One moment at a time, one hour, one day. We put one foot in front of the other, and we keep moving ahead. If necessary, we allow ourselves to be pulled along by the tide of people who are excited by the year ahead, but we focus on the here and now. We practice mindfulness. We stop thinking about the future; we stop worrying about what is to come.
And maybe, just maybe, every now and then, a little bit of hope, a little bit of a dream, a little bit of excitement might just poke through the cloud that you feel you’re living under at the moment.
And maybe, just maybe, with each passing day, the cloud may get slightly thinner, and the light that the new year brings with it might start shining through.
Until then, if you’re in the dark, if you’re struggling to see the way ahead, don’t forget that it is absolutely OK, but please make sure you reach out for help. You don’t have to do this alone. You’re not expected to and you’re not made to do it alone.
People need people.
If you’re struggling, or you need someone to talk to, remember you should talk to your GP, see a psychologist or therapist, or if it’s urgent or after-hours, you can call Lifeline (Australia) 13 11 14, or chat online between 7pm-4am (AEST) at Lifeline Australia.