So how are New Year’s resolutions working out for you guys? I only ask because, in the sadistically early hours of this morning, as I rummaged under the bed for some socks to wear to my 9 a.m. QR (WHY!?), I found a list of mine crumpled inside a shoe. They were very well meaning: the words “cardio,” “quinoa” and “paid internship” appeared repeatedly in capital letters. In any case, I now know that there is something more depressing than having to integrate before breakfast: realizing that I have stuck to literally none of my plans for self-improvement.
Apparently, I’m not alone in this. “Don’t even,” said a friend of mine as I told her about my existential crisis over omelets in JE (this is a strong contender for the most obnoxious sentence I’ve ever written). “I told myself that I was going to finish a triathlon this spring, and so far I have run 0.3 miles. I feel disgusting.” She then proceeded to unleash a whole slew of other resolutions she’d failed to make good on. When she got to “stop being such an underachiever,” I realized just what a ridiculous conversation I was having. By any standard, my friend — just like every other student at Yale — is pretty much killing it in life. But just like every other student at Yale, my friend isn’t terribly convinced of that right now.
It goes without saying that the start of any semester is a stressful time. Right now, we’re trying to find classes, something to do this summer, a proper grown-up person job for when we graduate. Meanwhile, New Haven in January is about as cheerful as a decaying Soviet factory town on the Russian steppe. No surprise, then, that none of us are feeling tip-top about ourselves at the moment. But I’ve noticed that once the New Year hits, Yalies’ insecurities come out to play faster than seniors late for penny drinks.
Right now, we all seem to see ourselves with the disdain we normally reserve for the person who corrects a professor in an oversubscribed seminar during shopping period. I think that this is because January 1st offers the illusion of a clean start: a strangely poisonous type of hope. We wake up on New Year’s Day believing that yes — yes! — this is the day that we will kiss all our flaws goodbye. Suddenly we start tallying up everything we don’t like about ourselves. Hello again, insecurities! We imagine our year will only be successful if we become better people immediately.
This is the sort of zealous thinking that we normally associate with balding men who believe they’re prophets. Granted, there’s nothing like a hangover to make you long for salvation, but still: we don’t wake up after every excess and decide to remake ourselves completely. Ever heard of Spring Fling resolutions? Me neither. Then why decide to turn over a new leaf now? If there were ever a time for Insomnia under a liquor blanket, it’s winter in New Haven.
A couple of years ago, I spent New Year’s Eve in the emergency room with a few friends and a forty-something Swede named Victoria. We’d found her slumped on the curb, wearing a purple sequined dress with no shoes and bleeding profusely from her shin. She’d hit her head, lost her wallet and keys, couldn’t remember her address and was so drunk that the only way we could get her to wait for an ambulance was by talking to her for an hour about her ex-husband. Once we finally got her to the hospital, she stripped off all her clothes in the toilet cubicle and washed her feet in the hand basin stark naked. Then she refused treatment and promptly strode out of the ER with my friend’s sock still plugging her gaping wound.
I’m sure Victoria woke up the next day feeling hella sore, and probably more regretful than most of us can ever claim to have been on January 1st. But whilst I hope none of us ever find ourselves at 3 a.m. rinsing congealed blood from our toes as a sixteen year old feeds us pretzels, we should all learn one thing from Victoria. As I tried to stuff her back into her dress, I remember saying to her, “Come on, Victoria — a new year means a new you!” And Victoria slurred right back at me “I’m fun the way I am. Let’s get back to the party!”
Everyone at Yale on a cleanse right now, take note.