I used to roll my eyes at people who set new year's resolutions. When friends came up to me talking about what they were excited to improve for the coming year, I would think things like, "What's the point? Why the new year? It doesn't matter anyway, it's not like things are going to change. You'll give up eventually." I would leave with a false sense of superiority thinking that I was a "realist" or someone guided by logic rather than by whims or unpractical ideals. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly an optimist or a very motivated person.
However, I think I've changed a lot since those days. Looking back on myself then, I think I never set resolutions because I never found anything I needed to improve. When I had everything I needed handed over to me on a silver spoon, I stopped bothering to try to be a better person when everything was telling me that I was doing okay. And while I realize that it's okay to be satisfied with myself, I think I grew complacent or overconfident.
It was only until sophomore year hit when I realized that I had fallen behind because I kept myself stagnant for so long. There were suddenly so many challenges and hurdles for me to overcome that I realized it was absolutely essential to improve myself for the new year. I realized that all of the time I spent condescending other people about their resolutions could just have easily gone into making some of my own. So for the first time ever, I tried to meaningfully come up with what I wanted to fix about myself.
Though it's still too early to say, I'm really enjoying the results of my efforts so far. Overall, I believe these resolutions have made a significant impact on my mental wellbeing along with my academic progress, and I couldn't be more happy with that. I've noticed that I'm happier and understand the content in my classes more than when I was in first semester at a time when I'm learning what's supposed to be some of the hardest material in the school year. And even though I've been sleeping an average of 4 hours a night, I've been taking all the stress and sleep deprivation better than my breakdowns in the first semester. I've started to appreciate my efforts and what I have around me more, and I don't think any of it would have been possible if I continued like I was.
So as I've continued into the new year with increasing success, here's what I've realized about the mentality that I used to have: When I chose not to have a resolution, I chose to put my life in the hands of circumstance or fate instead of my own. Of course, I couldn't control everything about my life but setting resolutions made me feel bigger; more empowered to change what was around me instead of feeling smaller and insignificant in the wake of larger forces in the world.
I now realize the flaws in my nihilist thinking. I gave up before I even tried to do something. Instead of trying to fix my problems before they struck, I waited for them to come. And when they inevitably did, I lamented about the unfairness in the world without ever trying to change it. Denying the value of resolutions and personal growth was my coping mechanism to distract myself from the challenges or adversity I had to face. My apathy took the situations around me for granted. I didn't change because I thought nothing would.
I used to think setting resolutions would make me miserable as I tried everything I could to acheive them. I believed that improvement came at the cost of self-satisfaction or confidence. However, now, I realize that my new years resolutions are exactly what are making me proud of myself. The evidence that I am becoming happier is why I feel fulfilled.