How to ‘Celebrate’ the New Year If You Had a Terrible Year
No matter how many times you hear someone say that New Year’s Eve is a totally arbitrary holiday, or that the concept of January as a “fresh start” is bogus, the end of the year can still feel, somehow, very significant. And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that; structure and routines can add meaning to our lives, and for some people, the turning of the calendar might feel comforting. But the start of a new year doesn’t bring glass-clinking feelings for everyone, and reflecting on the past 12 months might not be so enjoyable if you’ve had A Year. As much as some of us might like to, we can’t always leave all the bad things behind—like the soreness from a big breakup, or the lingering resentment for the boss who fired you—once the clock strikes midnight on December 31. And not to be an even bigger party pooper, but making a New Year’s resolution (to, say, not text your ex or to get a new job) can feel more like an overly critical mandate than a hopeful goal if you’re already feeling low. All of this is to say: For a lot of people, the end of year doesn’t bring glowy, reminiscent feelings, and may even stir up anxiety and dread. If that’s where you’re at, take heart: There are a few strategies that can help you reframe the new year, or, at the very least, make it easier to ignore.Make New Year’s Eve plans you’re genuinely looking forward to. How do you really want to enter the January? Is it standing in a crowded bar while balloons fall from the ceiling (read: standing in line at the bar, antsy as you wait for your $50 champagne flute)? Is it in a big group hug with friends and/or family at a house party in your neighborhood? Or is it in your PJs, in that sublime space between being awake and asleep, cozied up in your home? There are no wrong answers here, but try to be honest with yourself and then figure out your celebration accordingly: Are you planning an evening that aligns with what you actually want? Or are you doing what feels expected, even though you’d rather be home with friends or a loved one? “Don’t be afraid to deviate from the norm and do something different than you normally would,” Madison Wise, LPC, a therapist with Just Mind Counseling in Austin, tells SELF. “You can create new traditions at any point in time.” Setting your own traditions might mean saying no to what others want you to do; for example, maybe you prefer to skip that ticketed bar party this year in favor of staying home and ordering takeout with a partner. If that’s the case, Wise recommends having a light-but-honest conversation with your friends about how you’d like to usher the new year in. When you’re delivering the news, it can help to cater your approach to the person you’re talking to. Is this someone you can be truly vulnerable with, or will a simple, “honestly, I have too much going on right now to deal with finding an Uber at 12:30 a.m. so I’m going to sit this year out” suffice? Part of honoring your own boundaries means being aware of how other people will react to you, too. For example, if you share personal information with a friend who’s always dismissed your feelings, you might find they want to debate you about your proposed plans or your reasoning. Give yourself permission to be honest about what you want to do on the 31st without giving everyone the entire truth of your horrible 2022, if that’s what feels right to you.Say farewell to 2022 in whatever way feels good. Even if the bad things that happened in your life in 2022 will continue to affect you in 2023, you can still say goodbye to elements of them at the end of the month. For example, you might make a list of crummy things you had to endure in the past year that you will likely not have to repeat in the new one. If 2022, say, involved an unexpected, heart-throttling breakup, you may still be dealing with the ache, but the actual act of ending the relationship or finding a new apartment on your own is something you can leave behind. Or, if you got laid off from a company you really loved, you may still be settling into your new job, but updating your resume and interviewing is behind you.