The beginning of the year is an exciting time for most people. It signifies hope, a chance for a fresh start, and endless opportunities. It’s a celebration of endings and beginnings.
For some, though, the start of a new year triggers anxiety and depression. After dealing with feelings of defeat and inadequacy when the previous year ended, you must find hope in the bleakness. You must convince yourself, for the umpteenth time, that change is coming even though stagnancy has been a theme in your life for years.
I have celebrated new year’s day in the past. Like everyone around me, I would cuss at the year’s ending and all its bad moments, then scream out my hopes for the new year. “Maybe this year I will have less pain so I can work or study.” I’d say. But with every year that came and went, I accomplished nothing, which led to depressive episodes.
There is currently an influx of posts about starting anew all over social media. There are many book suggestions, vision board and goal setting templates, tips on how to lose weight, gym, etc. While this is great, it certainly does not work for everyone. Goal setting is hard for me, as I do not know if I would be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning. Or how long will that inability last. It could take a day or week to five years.
I have been chronically ill my entire life. Each year, my illnesses have either gotten worse or I would get a new life-altering illness altogether. My physical limitations make it hard for me to look forward to life. Being ill comes with constant grief of broken dreams, losing myself, and the ability to do things I desire when I want to. Despite that, I still hope for a life where I am not confined to my bed.
In 2020, I did a vision board. I thought it would remedy my lack of achievement. I was comparing my life to that of my peers. At 27, I should have had some direction career-wise, instead of nursing my sick body. But with age, I have realized and accepted that life does not work out in a straight line.
I wrote all I wanted to achieve or attempt in categories; Relationships, Career, Health, and Finance. A post I saw on Twitter suggested writing a gratitude letter to the year with the vision board, and I did that. Long before Covid hit our shores, I was sick. It was so bad that I couldn’t be outside for over five minutes. I was weak. Though I could not control my circumstances, I still felt like a failure that year.
When the clock struck 00:00 to usher in the year 2023, I was in bed playing games on my phone. I had no desire to scream, hope, or even think about setting goals. While 2022 was a good year, I reminded myself that it was not a lack of effort that has my life at a standstill. I have invisible illnesses that dictate how I live. There are years where all I do is get out of bed and bathe, and months where I can achieve certain things without pain.
This year, my major goal is to be kinder to my body. There is no need to force myself to accomplish things when my body is in pain. If getting out of bed is all I can manage, then it’s alright. If one day, I can take a 2 km walk, it’s also fine.
I will celebrate myself more this year, sing off-key often, read, stargaze, and do all the things that bring me joy. I will start over as many times as I can, whether it’s in March or November. It does not matter. On days when I can’t show up, I will not shoot myself down.
So here’s to 2023! May we exist without pressure.