Happy new year to my five readers!
A while back, in conversation with my brother, he told me that 2018 is the year of no expectations. It’s not hard to relate to the sentiment — at the beginning of every one of the last few years, I optimistically declared that they would all finally be the years when things settled and stopped feeling like such a mess. After being consistently proven wrong, having no expectations seems like the healthiest way to enter into a year that nobody, least of all me, can predict. (This great take on the proverbial annual horoscope is scarily accurate, however.)
Along with this approach comes a new way of thinking about resolutions. I’ve never had any firm new year’s resolutions, so to speak of, but I did always enter into the year with notions and intentions of eating well, exercising more and being more financially responsible and stable. Then there were promises to write and explore creativity, positive, and so on and so forth. They’ve never really stuck though, and I realise that to me, these intentions and notions have more to do with lifestyle, and less with an achievable goal you set for a year. Despite entering the year with zero expectations, I still want to set myself some goals that, when the end of the year rolls around (if we even make it that far, let’s be real), I can say I’ve done. My new year’s resolutions are things I want to do in 2018, and only 2018.
That being said, I cannot help but think that a year should have focus, at the very least. At the risk of starting to sound like some kind of self-help book: what is the point of this year, for you? Or, in this case, me. Perennial fave Cindy, has picked a word to focus on for 2018, and I think there is some value in grounding your activities for the year around a particular keystone. The one I’ve selected for this year is travel. I am going to travel the fuck out of my year, or at least spend the year gearing towards travelling the fuck out of the next year. Either way, my focus is clocking those miles on my belt (or exhaustively planning to, and then diligently saving). One of the benefits of upending my entire life and moving to Edinburgh is that travelling becomes so much easier (and not only because you’re earning in pound sterling). How about a weekend away in Prague? Or a couple of days off for a little side-trip to Barcelona? (As ever, I would rather stay at home than go to France.) It’s an opportunity too quick and easy not to take advantage of, with both hands and your mouth too. Jetsetter is this year’s mood.
I also have three resolutions. This was not the plan, but the first two sort of arrived in a flash of inspiration mixed with the inescapable truth of certain things. Two, however, is nobody’s number and so I spent a few days ruminating and generally faffing over what the third one could be, finally arriving at a nice little triplet of things to do in 2018. That are non-negotiable.
1. Read all the books on my shelf.
This was born out of the fact that buying books becomes a reckless adventure when they’re all so affordable. It’s hard not to actively plan to buy books, just for the sheer joy of spending R300 (or £20) and walking out of the shop with three books (brand new — the second hand dreamscape that is Edinburgh is yet to be properly explored by yours truly). The other fact, however, is that I am one of those people who has numerous unread books already sitting on her bookshelf, leading to a weird vortex of guilt and shame whenever I see their dusty spines or buy a new book. So, this year, before I spend a single cent on anything new, I plan to read all the tomes, novels and exposes currently neglected on my shelf. It’s not that many, all things considered, but until they are done, any new books I want to read have to come from the library (where there is always a waiting list — I waited so long for a reservation once that I completely forgot I made it).
2. Learn to drive. Legally.
This is one tenuously connected with the event of my thirtieth birthday, and somehow feeling like I have failed myself because I can barely operate one of the world’s most common machines. In all fairness to me, I have made some previous inroads into educating myself, and have a half-solid grasp of how all the pieces slot together to make the car go forward, but on the whole, I am next to useless. I also do not have any kind of driving qualification, usually known as a license (which, in the UK, is used extensively for identification, especially when you’re getting carded at Scotmid when buying a bottle of wine). Apparently, learning to drive in the UK is quite a process, but honestly, my toolbox has been lacking this skill for so long now that I’m over saying I can’t do it.
3. Complete NaNoWriMo.
I’ve known about National Novel Writing Month for years now. And I completed it once, in my teens. Ever since then though, whenever November rolls around, stopping life to write 50 000 words just feels like an impossible task. But for the first time in years, I feel like it’s a legitimate thing I could set my mind to doing, and completing. It’s fair to assume that it won’t be easy — it’s a monstrous word count for such a short period of time, but doable nonetheless. It’s a breakneck, texty kind of race to the end of November (if anyone reading this feels like joining me on this journey, holla — I could use a running buddy). When it’s all over, however, you do have the beginnings of a proper manuscript and that’s not something to sniff at ever.
And there they are, my new year’s resolutions. They’re not particularly life-changing or even ground-breaking, but they are small little things that I’ve always wanted to do, but never quite gotten round to doing. (As a side note, I do eat healthier and exercise more, but that has nothing to do with new year’s resolutions, and everything to do with fighting anxiety.) This is my little 2018 bucket list.
EDIT: The only thing I’m expecting from 2018 is a spectacular, lush highlight.