When I was younger, I always made a New Year’s resolution list in my journals with a childlike hope that I am shocked to say hasn’t completely flickered out. This private tradition continued through my teen years and most definitely will into my twenties. Because an inherent optimist like me needs to believe that Future Me is going to achieve something that will make Present Me proud.
Achieve something… Now that’s a nagging thought. While I’ve only been in my twenties for two years, I already feel the weight of outside pressure telling me to hurry up and do something with my life. It’s that tiny thought in the back of my head, the one specific to Millennials and Gen-Z’s that says we have to legitimately change the world or make loads of money by the time we’re 25 in order for our lives to have any value.
And as if that shadow wasn’t already standing at the end of my bed every night, there seems to be a new trend making that shadow even bigger. It comes in the form of social media posts that ask, “There’s only [insert amount of months] left in the year! What have you done?” If these posts were physical manifestations, they’d look a lot like those Uncle Sam wartime posters.
So, I’m left sitting there under that accusatory, pointing finger wondering: what have I done? My daily life consists of going to school, coming back home, and eating homemade pizza. In comparison to others’ impressive list of accomplishments over the past year, it seems as if I’ve wasted another year working toward nothing particularly life-changing.
But that’s where the danger lies. How can we compare our personal accumulation of experiences to anyone else’s? And why must we feel guilty for not constantly living up to the demands of our capitalist society (as in profiting off your talents or hobbies = good life)? So, I didn’t land a guaranteed job position or internship for my post-grad life — no biggie. I didn’t travel to a new country or fall in love — alright.
But I did survive.
I think it’s easy to forget that simply surviving another year is an amazing feat within itself. Life is tough and mundane, but it can also be really sweet and beautiful. How come no one shares lists of the quiet, precious moments? Those are just as important as landing the perfect job.
We don’t need to scramble to add another accomplishment under our belts just for the sake of doing so by the end of the year. The value of our time is not always measured by lists of accomplishments, but rather how present we are during our time.
Just being here is enough. A year is a long time! And if no one has said it yet, then I will: I’m so proud of you.