NEW YEAR, NEW ME
As I’m writing this, it’s a few days before 2020 officially ends and 2021 begins. This would be the time when most people make a list of New Year’s resolutions to implement for the upcoming 365 days, with promises like I’ll start working out so I can get in shape, or I’ll read 20 pages of a book every night. Unfortunately, many people who write these goals down, myself included, never follow through with them. Maybe for the first few weeks they hit the gym consistently, or they manage to reach their nightly reading goal a few days in a row. But then life gets in the way and throws everything off track, and it seems the only thing left to do is give up and try again the following year.
Nothing changes for the better because the “fresh start” everyone thinks they get when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is just a bunch of bullshit. People still carry the same bad habits, toxic cycles, and harmful mindsets they had not just the previous year, but the previous day as well. The only way anyone can attain the fresh start they so desperately crave is to re-evaluate everything they know about themselves, as well as everything present in their life; from jobs to relationships, and to the ways they perceive the world around them. Once that’s done, only then can they find the parts they’re not satisfied with, and subsequently figure out the necessary steps to take in order to fix things, or start from scratch and build new foundations.
The work is ugly and messy and challenging and exhausting, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever. The more time and energy is put into doing this shadow work, the easier it’ll become as progress continues to be made. The purpose of shadow work is to expand the mind and explore beyond the superficial aspects of the ego, to dig deep into the subconscious mind to bring to light thought patterns, habits, and other things we may not consciously process during our daily routines. Once that part of the process has started, then it’s crucial to sit and reflect on what’s been uncovered and decide which parts are detrimental and how. Knowing these negative aspects are present in the deeper layers of the brain then allows for the development of an action plan, a plan that once acted on, gradually helps alter the undesirable parts for the better. Even when things eventually start to feel good and people slowly feel like themselves again, there will be days where it feels like all the progress achieved has disappeared into thin air. When this happens, people may want to give up and settle back into their old ways, because as much as any individual hates to admit it, what’s bad for you can be comforting, because people gravitate towards what feels familiar to them and their lifestyle.
But the beautiful thing about progress is that it’s not supposed to be linear, and it’s perfectly normal to have those bad days. Once a person comes to terms with that fact, it allows them to keep growing without letting the fear and the doubts in their mind hold them back entirely. The other important thing to keep in mind is that there is never really an end to the journey of self-discovery. It can go on for a lifetime, because there is never a point where someone can declare they’ve made enough progress to make things “perfect;” there will always be more flaws to uncover and confront, and some will stick with us forever no matter how hard we try and get rid of them. But that’s okay, because our flaws are just as much a part of us as are our better characteristics.
That being said, those characteristics continue to evolve as we continue to adapt through our life experiences. In other words, human beings are allowed to reinvent themselves whenever the hell they want, however the hell they want. Just because you were a certain way at one point in your life doesn’t mean you’ll stay that way forever. Not only that, people will always have their own perceptions of you, no matter how you present yourself. You might as well live your life to the fullest as your most authentic self.
So for whoever is reading this, wear the clothes and the accessories you like, cut and dye your hair whichever way pleases you the most, go after the interests and hobbies you’re passionate about, follow the dreams that excite and thrill you to your core. Whatever you do, do it because it makes YOU happy, not because it satisfies someone else’s expectations or view of how you should look and act.
Don’t just wait for the new year to be the version of yourself you’ve always dreamed of being. You have the power to take things into your own hands and create the reality you desire; never let anyone try to tell you otherwise. They’re not you and they don’t know you as well as you know yourself. Society’s standards exist to limit people’s potential, so fuck what kind of person society says you should be, and push the boundaries to find the version of yourself you love the most.
Whether you decide to embark on this journey of self-discovery tomorrow, or next week, or six months from now is completely up to you. But my advice is don’t wait. Don’t waste any more precious seconds, because life is short. Right now you can take the first of many steps towards this new life of yours, the one that’s been waiting patiently to be found. So now that you’ve finished reading this, what’s stopping you from going after it?
Stay tuned to learn more about our newest contributor, Sofia Peres!
Learn more about Grace Hwang here!