Rationalizing your resolution

The importance behind creating a New Year’s resolution that aligns with the lessons of 2020

Nicole McIsaac, Associate News Editor

If you are currently reading this, you made it out of 2020 — whether it was easy or not, you fought through and held on for dear life. Now what? 

“New year, new me” — is a common saying every time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. However, after 2020 wreaked havoc on society, a New Year’s resolution is exactly what we all need. 

Now, I’m not talking about the typical resolutions such as losing weight, quitting smoking or becoming more organized. Although those goals are quite admirable, they do not align with what 2020 should have taught us all. 

I am talking about establishing a resolution to become an individual that’s more self-aware of their surroundings and the people that their actions directly affect.

I’m not going to sit here and describe how the course of 2020 has played out — we all lived it and dealt with the repercussions firsthand. But every person has witnessed or been affected by the disasters of COVID-19, racial injustice, poverty, a presidential election, the loss of family and friends, devastating fires and for some, even pesky killer hornets. 

Illustration by Connor Lawless

Considering the heavy chapter of what this past year will look like in a future history textbook, society will never be or look the same again. This is the start of a new world — a post-2020 world. Now that the new year has officially begun, it is time for a fresh start and a sensible perspective.  

However, despite all the pain that we’ve endured, the lessons and values that we can take from the past 12 months should be deemed most important — and that is exactly what your resolution should entail. You need to start becoming more aware of not only your personal state of well-being, but everyone else’s around us as well, now more than ever. 

When it comes to the subject of loss — loss of employment, housing, in-person education or even what the world was like before all this occured, we collectively need to place more of an emphasis on creating a sensitivity around the matter. With the increase of death rates across the United States in regard to COVID-19, the loss of family and friends should especially be spotlighted and treated with care.

The windy river of grief and depression is one that is no easy ride for any individual. Being socially distanced and locked away in the high quarantine towers of your confined bedrooms doesn’t help these types of situations in any way shape or form — in fact, it just makes it worse.

According to a research study from Brain&Life, severe lack of social interaction alters the neurochemistry of the brain by “turning off the dopamine neurons, which trigger the reward response, and causing some degeneration in the brain when the reward response is not activated.” In other words, isolation and loneliness causes physical harm to human health, and adding a heaping load of any other struggle that arose in 2020 just exacerbates the problem. 

If we, as a whole, went about our daily tasks and responsibilities while keeping in mind that we don’t have a clue what other people are going through or are facing, the world would be a better place. Some suggestions for this include creating an open line of communication with others, checking in on the people in your life, taking time to understand why someone may be acting the way they are or just be kind to every individual you encounter. 

According to several studies posted by Psychology Today, “those who are heard tend to be more open, more democratic in their ways, and are often less defensive. Good listeners refrain from making judgments and provide a safe environment and container for speakers.”

I am a firm believer that what you put in the universe will come back to you. If I could be the one person that makes somebody smile on a difficult day, then I did something right — and that is the exact mentality you should keep throughout 2021.

Bordering that same ideology, sensitivity to decades of racial injustice gained an extra amount of attention throughout the course of 2020, especially after the murder of George Floyd. Streets flooded with crowds of protesters and cardboard signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” all while the rest of the year’s disasters continued to play out. 

Whatever opinions or ideas you hold regarding this racial movement, it is still crucial to listen to others about their encounters with racism and oppression. Taking a step back and still being able to hear other people’s side of the story, firsthand experiences or beliefs shows a sign of respect and a symbol of humanity.

Although it is essential to begin this year with all of the suggestions listed above, that by no means diminishes the importance of checking in on yourself and ensuring that your well-being is substantially taken care of. Self-care was a necessity of getting through the past year and should continue to be prominent in your everyday life in 2021. Be a better person for not only others, but for yourself.  

Entering the new year doesn’t mean we are out of the woods just quite yet. However, it also doesn’t define any reason as to why we shouldn’t hold an optimistic hope for the future, regardless of how 2021 will run its course. We can properly navigate through this year by positively impacting someone’s else’s life one day at a time. The choice is ours, and it starts right now.