Writing by Briony Brake // Photograph by Sandra Lazzarini
For a lot of people, and for a reason unbeknownst to me, New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest and best celebrations of the year. The last night of one year and the earliest hours of another end up being the highlight of…both years? I certainly appreciate the desire for a party, for being with friends or partners, and for getting all dressed up with food and drink aplenty, but then I’ve never been to a NYE party, and I’ve never spent the most wonderful party window of the year with friends. I’m sure this sounds bitter, but if you know me, you’ll know that I’m really just stating how it is. I’ve never been with friends at the beginning of a year, and I’ve only spent it with a boyfriend twice.
I should mention, I feel, that mentally I’m not that young; for a 21-year-old, I’m a bit of an old lady. Which in my eyes means that as well as enjoying a good cup of tea in peace and quiet, I also tend to take a long time processing change, and hang on to personal traditions that would otherwise have struggled to survive.
Being offered and (obviously) accepting a full time job as well as moving in with strangers in a new house in a new city this summer has meant I’ve had to get a bit better and faster at coping with change. I still miss how things were, but then that’s the thing about nostalgia. Nostalgia means to long for a past that never was, and as such, being nostalgic is something I’ve realised I needed to break from. My family has changed a lot in the last five-plus years, and so have I. All of us have different lives and all of us are living in new places. Things cannot ever be how they used to, because they were in the past, but before I overdo the cliché, I’ll give you some more background on my own New Year’s history.
I’ve had some shit New Year’s. I feel as though I’ve repressed a few of them because I know I’ve cried into the new year before, and I know last year I sat uncomfortably with someone I was fighting with and who would break up with me just over a week later. I’ve had quiet ones where parents have tried their best to keep their weary eyes open to watch the fireworks on the telly with me because they know how much I love them. I’ve also had some New Year’s Eves I’ve loved where I’ve danced around the living room with my brother, watching those same fireworks on the telly.
Fireworks are my ultimate favourite thing; I just adore them, and my thing has always been that I watch the London Eye display on the telly and dance a bit to the music that plays. It sounds weird and quaint but that’s really the best option I’ve had, and I’ve liked it. I have watched the fireworks on the telly most years, but I no longer really feel the excitement or anticipation of a new year. I don’t have a lot of party invites as the new year approaches, although I did receive one from a friend in London to see out 2017. I can’t go, because I’ll be in my hometown, and that’s because I bought train tickets assuming I’d spend New Year’s at my house. You see where the traditions thing comes in, now? I know I’ll find it hard to ever spend the time away from family and I felt dreadful the first time I spent it with a boyfriend because it felt like I should have been at home. It’s something I’m still wrapping my head around.
Once the party, or in my case the fireworks on the telly are over, then comes the time for resolutions and wishes for the coming year. This always gets me. I used to joke every year that I’d learn to ride a bike because in school that always seemed to top the list. Despite knowing very well how to ride a bike, it’s my answer when people ask, because for a long time I gave up on resolutions and wishes. I am your average human being who has, in the past, resolved to lose weight, get fit, see friends more often, eat better, sleep better, etc., etc. The thing about all this, is that we all know it’s total rubbish. I cannot control what happens every year of my life because… you know, life.
I was at a party recently when someone asked me about my ‘five year plan’. I found this a bit ludicrous because I do not have a five year plan. I did not plan anything about my life at present and yet here I am enjoying it. I did not plan to be working where I am or living where I am, but it happened, and it’s good. So what’s the point in planning? Life’s going to do stuff that you have no control over, and this is where I realised something important: if you don’t complete your plans or don’t manage to change yourself in whatever way you wished you would a year ago, it’s not your fault.
You should not beat yourself up about everything you didn’t do this year. Shit happens. The only thing that matters is that you keep dreaming and wishing about the good things that could happen to you. Embrace the change that comes your way, whether you planned it or not. Accept that life happens and you can make yourself better through it all; it doesn’t need to be something major that alters who you are as a person, it can something small and simple that makes you happy nonetheless.
I know I don’t like New Year’s, and I know I’m not going to push myself to the gym anytime soon, so for 2017, I tried to break myself out of a different pattern. I watch a lot of films; they’re really my thing, but I watch so many of the same movies on repeat that I rarely watch anything new. So my resolution was to try and watch films I hadn’t seen before, old and new, and at the point of writing this, I’ve watched over 135 films this year that I had never seen before. I’m proud even though it’s so minor. It gave me a lot of joy throughout the year, and it even became a talking point for me. I was always talking to someone about this film or that film that was someone’s old favourite I’d seen for the first time or something new we’d all seen and wanted to talk about. I enjoyed it so much I’ll probably do it again next year, and although you might think it insignificant, I think I’m a little bit of a better person now and I know I can keep growing and learning and talking because of it.
So find something that makes you happy, something small and easy, and do it as much as you can in 2018. Read more books; listen to new music or podcasts; walk more. Small things make a difference, and can help you grow. This New Year, don’t try and change yourself, just try developing the excellent person you already are. Don’t expect for life to work in your favour, or for New Year’s Eve to be the best damn thing. Just be there, and enjoy yourself if you can. Be with friends or family or on your own, but promise that you will do something for yourself in 2018.
I don’t expect anything from New Year’s now, but I can’t wait for the next year because I know that anything can happen and that anything will happen. A new year is just more of everything I already have and do, and I intend to try every day and to look after myself from time to time, because that is all I can do. I hope you all have a wonderful NYE (even if you sleep through it) and that the rest of the year treats you well, but regardless of how things turn out, I hope you find a way to be good to yourself and make your 2018 as happy as life allows. Best wishes everyone.