Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Bullshit

Cades Cove

I did it again. According to the Official Blogging Code Handbook, I’m supposed to put the “thank you” post up on the 31st. This is the post where I am supposed to boast about my amazing life and how blessed I am. I’m supposed to give a round-up of all my best posts of the year. And then on New Years Day, I’m supposed to share my hopes and aspirations for the coming year, while providing you with a list of all the ways I’ve grown and will continue to grow as a person.

I lost that handbook a while ago (I think one of my many cats threw up on it). I’m also not one for following rules set by arbitrary rule makers. So you get my strange “It’s 2013″ post today. I felt like ruminating on it for a few days.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. I think New Year’s resolutions are bullshit. They don’t make people happy. They seem like an awesome idea in January, but it’s all downhill from there. I’m sure there are a few people who have had great success with this technique, but they’re like unicorns. I’ve never seen one.

I gave up making serious New Year’s resolutions about five years ago. Being the perfectionist that I am, I felt I was merely writing a blueprint for all the ways that I was going to be a failure in the coming year. I have enough issues with that, that I don’t need to actually create a plan on how big of a screw-up I’m going to be.

I do make some resolutions. They’re usually more like this:
Eat more bacon
Bake more pies
Try to have more compassion for others and for yourself
Hug someone you care about every day

These are a lot more fun, because I’m usually successful at them. I’d say that I actually did about 70% of the things I have listed on a former New Year post.

I just don’t think that a new year is some magical day that’s going to give you the willpower to do stuff you haven’t been able to do otherwise. Instead of focusing on one concrete goal, why do people create a whole list of things that have to change? It doesn’t work, and it only makes you feel worse. You not only failed at dropping those ten pounds you wanted to lose; you failed at life.

I try not to give the new year much power over me. Maybe it’s because I’m a gardener, but winter always seems to be an appropriate time to start thinking of changes I want to make or behaviors or situations that I want to see “die”. After all, winter is the season of death. So I start thinking about this as soon as the foliage in my garden completely wilts because of frost.

2012 has been a year I never want to go through again. It has been awful and sad and dark. It has been desperate and cruel and brutal. It was a year that almost drained us of our hope. We felt robbed. 2011 had been very hard, but 2012 was supposed to be better.

We’re very lucky in this one respect. We don’t have friends who spout trite sayings at us, because they think those sayings are as dumb as we do. But we do have acquaintances or unsupportive people who after learning about a hardship we might be going though, would say things like:

Every time a door is closed, God opens a window – First of all, this makes God look like an asshole. Why couldn’t he just open the door again? Secondly, I’ve taken to replying with “Yeah – that’s so you can jump out the window and break your neck” which always offends these sorts of people.

Maybe there’s a lesson you need to learn from all of this – Really? How about this situation just sucks? And maybe the lesson I needed to learn was to tell people like you off for barfing up a Hallmark greeting card.

Maybe this was put in your life to help you grow as a person – A person told my mother this once when she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I have rarely loathed a person as much as I loathed the woman who told her that.

After Marcus and I throat punched every single person superficial enough to spout such crap, my husband and I realized that we have learned lessons and grown as people. But probably not in the neat “Chicken Soup for the Soul” resolutions that those people meant.

I did not learn many lessons about myself as a person this year. I was desperately hanging on to the little bit of myself that I still had. When your finger tips are clinging to the edge of the precipice, that’s not usually a conducive environment for self-introspection. And I guess in a way, some of the awful stuff that happened did help us grow. I mean the misery stuffed into us took up quite a bit of space and probably made us bigger. And I ate way too much cheese and cookies.

Our trials didn’t open our eyes to many new ideas, mainly because my husband and I spent most of the time trying to stay above water. It’s hard to see these “mystical” lessons you need to learn when water keeps splashing in your eyes, and you’re hoping there aren’t any sharks around.

But I did learn a few things. Marcus did too (some of them are the same lessons I learned), but that’s his story to tell. What did I learn?

I learned that life is cruel and random sometimes. I learned that there is a point where I got so beaten down that I never wanted to get up again. I learned there is a point where I tried to shut everyone else out of my life to try to protect them from my stink of misery. I learned that people who are supposed to love you will kick you when you’re down for “your own good”. I learned that the people that God works through are never the people who are certain they know God’s will. I learned that people who spout blasphemous versions of their own warped concept of God’s will and punishment are usually people who like to use God as an excuse for their own pride and self-righteousness. I learned that some people like to nurture and lovingly tend to their rages and hurts, because letting go of those would put too much pressure on them to deal with their own issues. I learned that people will try to paint me into a corner and then bitch about the footprints on their fresh clean floor when I walk away. I learned that the dark corners of the internet will always have roaches scrambling around. I learned the ones you love can be taken away and while time heals, it still leaves a scar on my heart.

I learned that our friends and my family do love us, and the hugs, support and love that they’ve shown us has sometimes overwhelmed us with their generosity. I learned that I will often burst into tears over a small gesture of kindness. I learned that tiny miracles are all around us, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to see a big one. I learned that when I feel like there is no light in my life, that God did not abandon me. I learned that when the tunnel is long and dark, my friends are up ahead of me, turning their flashlights on & trying to light my way. I learned that when it seems like I didn’t have much more to lose, I was willing to take more chances and roll the dice. I learned that you can love someone with all your heart, but I can’t make them do the things they need to do, even if they themselves want to change. I learned that heartbreak can be mended in a way that makes a relationship stronger. I learned that I can take my predilection for being contrary minded and turn it into a superpower. I learned those roaches of the internet can hiss and hide, but I can be strong and not let their skulking about break me. I learned that I won’t allow people who nurse their hurts and rages to yell at me, attack me or ever silence me. I learned (and am still learning) to tell the people that matter to me, when they hurt my feelings, rather than taking the coward’s way out. I learned that this can be a scary way to do things, because there are many people who would rather yell over you, project their own issues onto you or shut you out. I learned that I can keep living truthfully no matter how hard it is, because it’s the right thing to do. I learned in such a concrete fashion this year, that there are Christians out there who care more about helping people, rather than condemning them. I learned that my friends trust me enough to put their faith in me, because they really do believe in me, and they’re not just trying to make me feel better.

I learned that when I am typing, and I finish a sentence, I am now only supposed to put one space before beginning a new one. I’ll admit – that one threw me a bit. I learned that bags full of shredded paper and cats do not mix. Well actually, they mix very well which is the problem. I learned that a Christmas tree with just the lights on it is almost as pretty as when it’s decked out with ornaments. I learned that four cats can fit on a wooden board on a radiator. I learned that there are defensive people who can’t take a joke or understand sarcasm. I learned that not taking myself so seriously is strange and foreign to these people. I learned that I can now drink my bourbon neat.

I learned that I can blog the way I want to blog. I learned that I don’t have to listen to the chatter of experts who tell me that what I’m doing is all wrong. I learned that I can ignore all the babble about SEO, the most efficient way to use social media, and whose ass you need to kiss. I learned that I can share the bad, the scary, the thoughts that creep around in the back of my brain that no one ever talks about. I learned that I can tell my story and help other people deal with their life stories. I learned that I can be vulnerable,while still keeping my privacy.

And you know what? It was only when I started writing and then blogging again with no rules, agenda or schedule that I fell back in love with my blog. Strangely enough, that’s when people started paying attention to what I had to say and started sharing their lives with me. That is such a joy.

I learned that celebrating with old and new friends, eating cake mix cookies, seductively licking a cake pop and getting to see a family’s beautiful two week old baby girl was a great way to ring in the new year, regardless of whatever mystical powers it may or may not have. I learned that while it is technically littering, taking a beach ball with 2012 written on it and booting it out the door and down the street feels pretty damn good.

I learned that I can survive, maybe not thrive, but I can survive a year like 2012. But 2013? It’s on like Donkey Kong if you try to screw with me.

29 Comments on Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Bullshit

  1. Jeff
    January 4, 2013 at 11:00 am (2 years ago)

    The one I hate is “everything happens for a reason.” Well yes, there is reason behind everything that happens but its raraly the sugar coated bullshit you are trying to serve me.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm (2 years ago)

      I hate that, because I don’t think everything happens for a reason. Sometimes life is just hard, and nothing we can do will make it less hard at that moment.

      Someone (I can’t name names) had an aunt that had a stroke. She wasn’t taking her blood pressure meds. There was a church party at her house to cheer her up. Someone said “Maybe this is just God’s way of telling her to slow down.” It took all of this person’s willpower not to say “Maybe this is God’s way of telling her to take her f%#@ing blood pressure medications”.

      Reply
  2. Irina
    January 4, 2013 at 11:00 am (2 years ago)

    You just described what 2012 was like for my husband and I…and we, too, thought that 2011 was bad, but that this was the year things would turn around – instead we discovered a fresh new hell that took over the entire year. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m so sorry. I’ll raise my glass and toast you for a wonderful 2013.

      Reply
  3. Russ
    January 4, 2013 at 11:08 am (2 years ago)

    I hope you re-learned this: I love you and Marcus.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm (2 years ago)

      I always knew this. And vice-versa.

      Reply
  4. Genie
    January 4, 2013 at 11:25 am (2 years ago)

    Here’s to one hell of a 2013, my friend. May the ride be easier on this side of the calendar. xoxo

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Genie – I’m trying to keep it in perspective. Maybe I got all my bad luck out at once. I’m sure you’re going to have a good year. :)

      Reply
  5. Trevor Sis. Boom
    January 4, 2013 at 11:25 am (2 years ago)

    I have had a few successful resolution. Two years ago I resolved not to buy bottled salad dressings and that one seemed to work. The following year I resolved to drink new cocktails. Ditto with that one. This year I’ve decided to rest on my laurels and quit while I am ahead. I share your contempt for those who spout ridiculous sayings at us. I think the only people I have ever had to cut out of my life were those who said things to me like “things happen for a reason” at the worst possible time for me to consider that possibility. Why do people say shit like that? It is much more comforting to know we were the victim of randomness than purposeful bullshit. Oh, and my cardinal’s cap is almost ready to share with you…

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm (2 years ago)

      I think those were wonderful resolutions! One year I resolved to make crackers. And I did! There were so tasty.

      People don’t like uncomfortable emotions & they go on autopilot at times. And some people are just assholes. When my mom’s dad died, someone actually told her that her father was going to hell because he was sprinkled, not dunked when he got baptized. What kind of person says that? Obviously a shithead.

      Reply
  6. The Modern Gal
    January 4, 2013 at 11:39 am (2 years ago)

    Oh my goodness, I have so many thoughts. I will try to adequately share most of them:

    1. I agree with you on resolutions, especially of the list nature. The people who I see making those are the same people who struggle to accept the randomness and chaos of life because they’re so busy trying to control every aspect of their own lives. That said, I like to make an intention for the new year in the form of a single word. Simple enough to help inspire, vague enough that it’s impossible to fail.

    2. I can understand why people embrace the New Year. The idea of a reset and fresh start is comforting. Of course, those fresh starts often never happen, but people still need that feeling of hope from time to time that things will be different. And in some cases, it can turn out to be a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.

    3. So many people struggle with the emotions of pain and grief, and it translates into them saying BS things. They want to make the pain go away, but that’s impossible to do, and what they forget is that process of experiencing pain and grief must happen and can’t be hurried. This world wouldn’t turn without it. I think people say these BS things for a reason that you kind of got at in your list of lessons: simply acknowledging your pain would force them to deal with some of the same painful emotions, and they’d rather just avoid it altogether.

    4. I think your lessons are beautiful, even the painful ones. They’re a great testament for the power of love.

    5. I think those with the warped concepts of God tend to be louder than those who care more about selflessly helping others. As backwards as it seems, I think that’s part of the idea. God exists for those who listen intently for him.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m going to try to block quote you. Expect me not to succeed and I will edit it again. And I did! :D

      I agree with you on resolutions, especially of the list nature. The people who I see making those are the same people who struggle to accept the randomness and chaos of life because they’re so busy trying to control every aspect of their own lives. That said, I like to make an intention for the new year in the form of a single word. Simple enough to help inspire, vague enough that it’s impossible to fail.

      I love the idea of intentions. Every time I take a yoga class, I set one for myself – it’s usually 3 words and sometimes they’re the same and sometimes they’re very different. I like the flexibilty.

      I can understand why people embrace the New Year. The idea of a reset and fresh start is comforting. Of course, those fresh starts often never happen, but people still need that feeling of hope from time to time that things will be different. And in some cases, it can turn out to be a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.

      I agree but fresh starts at NYs seem to always to be ways to shame ourselves. I think you find other times that are so loaded with meaning – the full moon, your birthday, really anytime of the year. That’s comforting to me. I can have a fresh start whenever I need it.

      So many people struggle with the emotions of pain and grief, and it translates into them saying BS things. They want to make the pain go away, but that’s impossible to do, and what they forget is that process of experiencing pain and grief must happen and can’t be hurried. This world wouldn’t turn without it. I think people say these BS things for a reason that you kind of got at in your list of lessons: simply acknowledging your pain would force them to deal with some of the same painful emotions, and they’d rather just avoid it altogether.

      That’s why I never have any problems saying “I know you’re in pain and there is nothing I can do to make you feel better right now and I’m sorry”. It’s in the months that follow that people who have experienced a grief need a kind ear to hear them out.

      I think those with the warped concepts of God tend to be louder than those who care more about selflessly helping others. As backwards as it seems, I think that’s part of the idea. God exists for those who listen intently for him.

      This. So much. Happy New Year to you!

      Reply
  7. Lisa
    January 4, 2013 at 11:40 am (2 years ago)

    Anyone who believes life is a Thomas Kinkade painting *should* be punched in the throat. Happy 2013. Did I mention that I did a happy dance upon your return? :)

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm (2 years ago)

      It cracks me up because Thomas Kinkade was a bit of an asshole. And thank you!

      Reply
  8. elizabeth
    January 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Amen on the futility of the sweeping, grandiose resolutions! I’ve been trying to stick to resolutions that are small and cultural (i.e. things I want to do, see, read, and eat) because they are things I wanted to do anyway and they provide some much-needed stimulation during the dreary winter months.

    As for what you learned, that’s a hell of a course load to take in over the course of 365 days. Here’s hoping that 2013 provides more fun lessons than difficult ones.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm (2 years ago)

      I agree – small changes lead to bigger ones. And I’m being a total hypocrite when I say this because I usually resort to grandiose changes. :D

      And thank you Elizabeth. I do too.

      Reply
  9. Anita
    January 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm (2 years ago)

    >>I learned that when I typing finish a sentence, I am now only supposed to put one space before beginning a new one. I’ll admit – that one threw me a bit. <<

    I love you. (And not just for this.)

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m actually studying my Harbrace!
      And I love you too!

      Reply
  10. Darlynne
    January 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm (2 years ago)

    Any way to search the comments to make sure I didn’t say any of the really obnoxious stuff? You never know, I might have lost my mind and started spouting the things that make me want to strangle other people. Don’t get me started on the “God never gives us more than we can handle” crap because most of us would choose to be just_a_little_bit weaker if it meant dodging some of the unbearable devastation that goes around.

    I love your “I learned” statements. I love the resolve, anger and grit that formed them and now back them up. It’s on alright.

    My New Year’s epiphany showed up in a greeting card at World Market (a reminder to be open to the world of possibility around us, because inspiration and salvation come on light and unexpected feet). Written by comedian Darlene Westgor for Frank and Funny, it reads:

    I love watching reality shows … When I compare our lives with theirs, I suddenly think, “My God! We should be wearing capes! We’re awesome!”

    And so we are. My cape is currently blue and yellow, but I reserve the right to change colors as I see fit. Rock on, Kristina.

    Reply
  11. Nicole Waterman
    January 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm (2 years ago)

    I am very pleased to have just discovered your blog. Your writing inspires me. Here’s to a happy 2013 x

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you Nicole! I hope you have a wonderful 2013 as well!

      Reply
  12. Kristina
    January 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm (2 years ago)

    I hate that phrase as well. There are days I rage against God, and it’s OK. He’s tough enough to take my anger. :)

    I love that card!

    I want a blue and hot pink cape. I would like the superpower of making people’s noses bleed with a click of my fingers. I plan to do it a lot to Donald Trump. :D

    Reply
  13. Marta Brysha
    January 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm (2 years ago)

    I too hate ‘everything happens for a reason’. My reply:

    Really? What is the reason that millions of people starve each year?
    What is the reason that people lose their homes in bushfires and floods?
    What is the reason that it is happening to other people and not you?

    Arseholes!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Marta – I have to agree. If you can’t comfort someone with something other than a platitude, just hug them and tell them you’re sorry they’re going through this. Simple as that.

      Reply
  14. Marta Brysha
    January 6, 2013 at 3:00 am (2 years ago)

    Yes, hugs are good. Also saying, “that is really crappy” here’s a box of decadent chocolates.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm (2 years ago)

      That is also a wonderful way to reply.

      Reply
  15. Michelle
    January 8, 2013 at 12:22 am (2 years ago)

    If I hear the nonsensical “every door is a window” one more time, I’m going to puke. And don’t get me started on “everything happens for a reason.” The only logical response to which is: “What possible reason can there be for [insert horrible thing]?” (which does have the advantage of usually shutting them up pretty fast). But, while we’re on the trite though at least not unicorn-folk sayings, I’ll add: Keep it up! And happy new year!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      January 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm (2 years ago)

      This new year will be great! A whole new fresh start! ;) And I love your logical response but unfortunately, I’ve known too many people that could come up with a “good” reason.

      Reply

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