Why I No Longer Think I’m “Too Cool” for New Year’s Resolutions

According to the Wikipedia page for New Year’s Resolution that I Googled approximately 10 seconds before sitting down to start this post, vowing to make a sustained change in one’s life at the advent of a new year is an ancient practice. Historically it tended to have some religious affiliation, but I like to think globalization has probably stripped away most of that. Or perhaps, it hasn’t. I’m still undecided about what that means for my soundly agnostic and/or lightly spiritual personal beliefs.

A little over a year ago, I decided to get my first tattoo. I mean why not? My Dad has a Navy Anchor on one of his arms and you can find some interesting gothic script crawling up both of my older brother’s forearms. To the delight of my mother, I opted not to get an overly large swath of my skin inked on my first date with a tattoo gun, but (probably) to her dismay I chose to get my favorite Pokémon penned on me instead. For anyone that’s seen me without a shirt on, or I suppose scrolled far back enough on my Instagram, you’ll know that I have a manga inspired rendering of the one hundred and fifty-first Pokémon, the ever adorable yet enigmatic Mew, just below my right shoulder. I like to think we have some things in common.

Like getting a tattoo, I used to think that I would never make any real New Year’s Resolutions. And since we’ve already established that I defied my previous expectation about permanently marking my skin, you probably inferred that I did indeed decide to make some changes in 2015. Almost 365 days later, I’m pleasantly surprised at how things have turned out. Not everything has gone to plan, I still haven’t quite figured out what Economics is, but to be fair, I did go to a concert by myself. Both seemed equally as daunting, though only one led to me dancing with total strangers to How to Be a Heartbreaker at the Electric Factory while Marina and the Diamonds looked fucking amazing in a neon bodysuit.

I earned my first semester 4.0 GPA in 2015, neatly wrapping up my sophomore year of college. Or as I affectionately refer to it in hindsight, The Year That I Kissed Far Too Many Boys That I Probably Shouldn’t Have. You win some, you lose some. There were some pretty cool parts to 2015 though. I moved to Boston for two and a half months to work at Harvard for the summer. That was probably the the scariest thing that I’ve ever done, but I’m not sure if that just means that I rarely take risks. Either way, I learned more about myself and what I want out of my life in that 10 weeks that I had in my first two years of undergrad. I also met some people that I know will be lifelong friends. Nothing says bonding like wandering around Allston in the middle of the night, ending up at a weird artsy house party, and losing my friends for half an hour as I made out with total strangers.

I emerged from that summer with somewhat of an idea about what it would be like to be a doctoral student at a top university, as well as a greater appreciation for all of the people in academia that are trying their hardest to make it a little less straight, white, and male. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has asked me how it was, and honestly I still really don’t have a well formulated answer. I got to pick the brains of some of the smartest people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and met a bunch of other 20-somethings that want to change the world in their own unique way. That was pretty rad. I also cried for about three days over how woefully unprepared I thought I was, for quite literally everything I had to do that summer, never mind meeting the expectations of the people around me. Thankfully, they were right, and I was wrong.

But what does this have to do with New Year’s Resolutions? Last year, I decided that I was going to say “No” to things that I didn’t want in my life, and “Yes” to more things that I wanted, even if they scared the shit out of me. I’ll be honest, my dramatic declaration was partially inspired by one of those corny block quote art things that you see in that section of Marshalls next to that tired print of Audrey Hepburn that every girl my age had in their high school bedroom. But it was also born from a desire to be the type of person that 16-year-old me daydreamed about while he honed his craft as a competitive Super Smash Brothers player. And so 2015 was full of awkward moments where I said no to people and subsequently worried about whether or not they now hate me forever. And one or two of them still might, but I’ve learned that often that has more to do with them than it does with me.

However, I also said yes to some pretty cool things this year too. I’ll be an undergraduate peer teacher for an Intro to Sociology class next semester with a professor that I really like. I’ll also be working on an ongoing research project about video games with another professor. I’m in the process of reapplying to spend this coming summer at Harvard again (or maybe Columbia…or perhaps Princeton…but hopefully Harvard). I even decided that a year from now, I want to be wrapping up a successful semester in Paris. I’m in the process of applying to a bunch of scholarships for that, because to be honest, I’m trying to pay as little as possible. I’m sure that my friends will forgive me for being gone for half of senior year, especially since I’ll be back for all the commiserating about impending adulthood and tequila shots that senior spring will undoubtedly entail. I’m not surprised that I ended up choosing to study abroad in a weird time slot compared to my friends; 16-year-old me also loved to be quirky and different. Perhaps we don’t grow up as much as we think we do.

For 2016, I’ve decided on a few manageable New Year’s Resolutions. The first being that I want to write more. Academic writing, creative writing, pointless scribbles about my day, and everything in-between. And of course, some long-form blog posts, like this one. That’s where this newly created corner of the Internet comes in, by way of Squarespace and my loveably neurotic attention to detail. I’m not disciplined enough to write lengthy daily or even weekly updates, but all of my favorite writers seem to agree that the best way to get better at writing is, well, to do it. I’m sure that this place will also become home to some serious content like another essay about modern racism. My second resolution involves my kitchen habits; I want to cook more interesting things. I’ve become relatively complacent in my culinary adventures; I mean I might as well actually use some of those recipes that I’ve reblogged, pinned, or otherwise chucked into an overflowing bookmarks folder. Maybe I’ll even end up writing about attempts at cool recipes, like these matcha white chocolate brownies. As for number three, I simply want to be more open to new experiences. As dramatic as that sounds, I have a habit of closing myself off to opportunities that I perceive myself to be under qualified for. If mediocre white dudes aren’t afraid to do stuff, then why should I be? I suppose, in a way, this last one is just an extension of last year but maybe that’s not so bad. I think a stubborn introvert like myself needs a little long term buy-in to make substantial changes anyway.

PS. Did you know that there are almost as many Pokémon as there are days in two whole calendar years? That’s 720 more creatures that someone could get inked onto them, though I don’t think any of the others will ever be quite as cute as lucky #151.

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