Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Resolutions: Spare Change

Today I was browsing some post-New Year's Eve articles online when I came across WhoWhatWear's great article responding to New Year's resolutions. Their "5 Great Alternatives" to New Year's resolutions are all worth reading over and even doing, but what really caught my attention was number 5: "Highlight the things you do well - not what you need to change."

The concept is so simple, but it really took me by surprise to read these words.  Our consumerist culture so persistently pushes improvement on us to persuade us to buy more: Buy this face cream because you need to look younger, buy this protein supplement because you need to lose weight, buy this gadget because you need to be faster/smarter/more up-to-date than all your friends. There's a reason gym membership spikes so highly in January - we're all convinced we need to lose weight and be different, better versions of ourselves.

But have we ever considered we might be okay the way we are? Face it - we made it through 2015 into a new year. Whatever we did previously carried us through twelve months of challenges; isn't that something to celebrate? Instead of ticking off all the countless traits I'd like to change about myself, here are a few traits I'm not going to change and instead will try and view as positive assets:

1. My appreciation for makeup

When I started getting into makeup vloggers on YouTube, I began reflecting my own use of cosmetics. Was I doing it to hide behind a mask? Did it make me superficial if I wore red lipstick to class? There's so much discourse surrounding beauty in general; if you wear too much makeup, you're shallow, but if you don't wear any, you don't take care of yourself. Girls who don't wear any makeup can be mocked, but at the same time, they can be put on a pedestal above girls who waste time on such frivolities as eyelash curlers and lip liner. 

Basically, women can't win (what else is new?) and I decided this year, I'm not going to alter my makeup routine to fit anyone else's idea of myself. Wearing lipstick doesn't make me any less dedicated to my schoolwork, and skipping eyeliner for a day doesn't make me any less beautiful. There are more important things to worry about than who is judging me based on the amount of paint I have on my face. 

2. What my body is capable of

Yes, I'm guilty of scrutinizing my body in the mirror, especially after a season of Christmas cookies and party foods. But I started going to the gym seriously this month, and even though I haven't worked out steadily this past semester, I'm easily able to complete three miles on the elliptical (and more, when I want). Instead of complaining about the pounds I know I could afford to lose, I'm going to be proud of the way my body carries me to all my activities and how far I know it will take me in 2016.

3. My downtime 

I'm the master of not making plans in order to spend time reading, watching movies, or just generally vegging out on the weekends and over breaks. Usually, I feel guilty when I say no to hanging out with big groups of people or doing fun activities, but at twenty-one years old, I have to be honest about who I am. I like my downtime! I really, really love spending time alone doing things that make me happy and comfort me. I don't need to be racing from event to event - I do that enough during the school year. Instead of feeling like I constantly need to keep up with the Joneses, I'm going to appreciate the time I get to myself and my onesie, because as I enter the second semester of my junior year and my first capstone class, I know moments to myself are going to be few and far between.

What are your non-resolutions for this year? What are you going to learn to appreciate instead of trying to change? 

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