So we’ve done it! 2014’s halfway mark has been and gone and as the days seem to rapidly disappear from under my feet I couldn’t help but think back to the promises I made to myself whilst nursing a hangover on January 1st.
According to Wikipedia (scepticism at the ready people), the idea of making New Years resolutions originated from the ancient Babylonians who made promises to the gods at start of each year. The Romans also began each year by making promises to the god Janus and in the Medieval era, knights took a vow at the end of Christmas each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. Today we still bother making resolutions although they very rarely last past January, let alone the entire year.
So why do we keep doing it?
I assume we make resolutions in order to achieve some sense of productivity, (the same reason I love buying stationary,) it allows us to, momentarily, make ourselves believe that we’re going to become the people that we want to be.
And that’s where my problem lies. Why, as a society, are we obsessed with changing ourselves? Are we swayed by our desires to be like the people we see in films? We spend our entire lives being shown that if you act certain ways you will have your ‘happy ending’. The amount of people, particularly today’s teens, that change who they are as a reaction to television and film is overwhelming. Every teenage girl seems to want to fit into a trope. You have the young Jennifer Aniston; dorky and cute with two friends and an oversized apartment in New York, who always ‘gets the guy’. You have the Alaska Young. This girl’s ‘different’. She’s a quirky and cynical pixie dream girl and reads books and quotes philosophical passages and misfit boys fall in love with her because ‘she’s not like the other girls’. And then you have the Effy Stonem. Dark, troubled, suicidally beautiful, she is perhaps the most dangerous trope. She trivialises and romanticises mental illness, but hey, if it can get a guy to take care of you then what’s the harm?
The pressure’s there for our boys too. Are they going to play the dashing hero, the womaniser or the nonconformist?
None of these tropes are healthy. They’re make-believe paper people; and no-one’s going to want to talk to a 2-D person.
Or perhaps there’s a more virtuous reason for our persistence of making resolutions. The want to better ourselves and to be the best person that we can be is definitely respectable. Most religions and philosophies suggest that we all ought to be the absolute best that we can be, however most of our resolutions are pretty personal and have very little to do with being a good person. Most of us promise to get up earlier and eat more healthily and be more organised.
Which is all absolutely fine.
The issue is, in two weeks time we’ll all be back to hitting the snooze buttons and eating family size bags of cheese puffs.
So, my question is; do you try to be better, or do you accept yourself and try to know who you are?
I’m not sure if any of us know the answer to that. All we can really do is try our hardest to do what feels right.
And on that sappy note, happy Half-Year! (Yes, it’s a thing now.)