Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Better



Happy New Year! What did you fail to achieve last year?

That's my sour interpretation of the inevitable inquiry about my New Year's resolutions. While that may sound a bit cranky, it's just the way I've been conditioned to think. It's an implication that we must be failing at something or at least be needing improvement in some way; otherwise, why would we annually renew our vows to change? So every New Year, we're always trying to be Better. But what's Better, exactly? It's usually just a stab in the dark on a sliding scale, but I suppose as long as we're all trying, as long as we're all aware of the choices we make, well - that's Better right there. (See? I'm not always such a cynic.) But since I opened the door... here's a small obligatory sampling of my resolutions for the next 12 months.

Make more eye contact.


Really, this is just a symptom of the underlying illness: low self-esteem. My insecurities keep me navel-gazing or admiring the floor under false pretenses. You often need to get to the root of a problem to solve it, but I've found in many instances dealing with my awkward self that sometimes, treating the symptoms first as a reverse-approach does tricky wonders. Forcing a smile on a shit day feels disingenuous at first, but after a while, that grimace begets a real grin (I guess there's some truth to the oft-irritating, annoyingly-optimistic saying 'fake it till you make it'). I hate that my lack of eye contact probably makes friends feel dismissed and strangers uncomfortable or suspicious, so no more of the ol' shifty eyes. I'm going to hold the gazes of those I hold dear, and I'll raise my peepers to match the practiced confidence of my firm handshake. And who knows? Maybe my secret brown freckle in my eye won't be so secret anymore, and more importantly, maybe I'll learn
there's less judgment staring back than I fear. So here's looking at you, kid - literally.

Floss more.

I'm sorry. I know it's terrible, and I'm ashamed. It's not like I don't floss EVER; I do it in fits and starts because I'm supposedly an adult and I know better. But in the end, I always slack because the act of flossing just freaks me out. The feeling of string sawing up into my gums sends the same shiver through my body as touching my eyeball once did. But I got over touching my eyeball out of the desire to wear contacts (or rather, the stronger desire to not wear glasses), so I know I can get over the flossy feeling, too. But seriously, eyeball-touching is still gross so please don't touch yours in front of me or you'll make me shudder like a freshly-slammed door. The feeling of clean teeth squeaking under my tongue is much better than the feeling I get when I watch pinkish-brown swirl into the drain (and I won't even get into the health problems I'm tempting), so regular, twice-daily flossing it is.

Stop trying to be perfect every day, 100% of the time forever.

Who am I kidding? Turns out the world won't end if I hork down that piece of chocolate I shouldn't have or skip a run in favor of a read - I'll leave doomsday to the Maya, Harold Camping, and Elvis Perkins. But seriously, life is messy and I realize I should stop trying to clean it up or slap a shiny Ikea veneer over the rough spots; that's not my job, and it's not a winning battle. We all can't be the best writer, artist, lion-tamer, etc. But we all just have to do our best, and that's enough. It's not settling; it's accepting. And although this won't be easy, it'll be worth the patience I'll test. Part of this means I'm going to stop trying so hard - it's exhausting. My standards for myself are impossibly high and my ambitions too lofty, so I need to start assigning the same understanding and forgiveness to my own mistakes that I do to my loved ones'. Being me should be plenty, and if not, oh well. So if I disagree with you, I'll say something instead of mumbling something neutral in fear of losing favor - hopefully you'll still like me anyway. If I don't accomplish everything I wanted to in a day, so be it; tomorrow will have a to do. If I love someone or something, I'm going to sing praises loudly and often. If I kicked ass at something, to hell with modesty in fear of offending: I'm going to let myself be proud of myself - and if I just sort of nudged ass with my toe, I'll still high-five myself for taking aim and wearing the proper footwear.



Sure, there are the other things, the same old stale promises of getting back into my skinny jeans and running/writing/laughing more and dusting of my guitar and tackling all the books on the bookshelf. These will get their turns in due time. But those are more selfish than what I'm after, at least in the first few months of 2012. Well, the flossing might be selfish except in the case of smooches, but the other two will help me be less selfish in the long run. They'll ultimately lead to worrying less about
me and other trivialities and more worth-while worrying about what matters: my relationships, feeling good, and the little world around little me.

On the other hand, maybe I should quit while I'm ahead: on my suddenly-more-populated run on January 1st, I spotted a corgi at 12:20pm (
Come on. A corgi at 12:20 the first day of 2012! What a sign!). So maybe I should just resolve to get a corgi. What could be Better than that?

2 comments:

  1. I can attest to the smiling eye contact - it works wonders for one's mood... and lord knows I am in need of joining in on this flossing resolution. Great one, ma'am!

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  2. Absolutely brilliant resolutions, and things I, too, should think about doing. When it comes to being "better", I think we all know the things that would make us better people in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. There are always things we want to do more of, and aiming to finally do it doesn't mean that if we don't "succeed" we are failures. I see January 1st as incentive to hit the re-set button and start over; the "beginning" is always the best time to reassess what kind of life we want to be living.

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