Student Life

Resolving forward, for the year, and for more

The leap into the new year brings with it not only the start of the winter semester but the invocation behind your resolution: Ask not what 2023 can do for you, but what you can do for 2023. 

How do we make material promises, and start fresh from the ruins, the grounds of a year prior? 

Resolutions notoriously disappear, becoming ephemeral, fleeting promises we make to ourselves over champagne or a kiss from a loved one at the stroke of midnight. They might fade away quietly, like autumn colours, or slink away like inglorious scrawlings on a post-it note in a dumpster across the city. How do we imagine otherwise? How do you illuminate the hope that you had in your life? The McGill Tribune offers ways to improve your resolutions so you can hold yourself not only accountable but also with love.

Where are you going, where have you been?

A resolution begins and ends with a desire for something outside yourself—a change that might make you into what you could be and should have been. Starting from that core message troubles the stakes of some promises to ourselves. Though jokes about abandoning that healthy diet or that membership at Econofitness pervasively attack any chance to look inward as doomed to fail, do they ring true for you? For example, are you resolving to eat more carefully, work out more often, or change your appearance because you think these are acceptable resolutions or will make you (or someone else) love you more? Instead of critiquing promises that might fail, we should look at what our responses reveal about ourselves. There is no better time than the present for getting real with yourself in a quiet expanse, holding gentle the parts of your experience that require care and softness. Remember that self-love doesn’t come into form with one practice or with more or less on your schedule. 

Ambition and self-transformation

In March, you look back at yourself in January and regret what you thought would be a welcoming space for change in your life. You were going to finally re-learn how to play guitar (you loved learning as a kid!), you were going to be more spontaneous with your friends (you miss the freedom of first year!), you were going to stop when you felt overwhelmed and breathe deeply, with intention. 

You thought you failed. It doesn’t have to be this way. Sure, setting your standards not only high but in a different way may make them harder to achieve, but the only judge lives in your brain. Progress doesn’t work like time, the seemingly silky, causal moves from day to night, month to month. We bend and wade flexibly in times when our past mistakes fold into present mistakes. We get way in over our heads and we deflate, but we still stand. To look at those weeks where you felt isolated, buried by your classes, overwhelmed by your extracurriculars or by the moments that flesh out into what feels like infinity, and say “I don’t want this anymore” can create a path and shift the surface of your life. Beginning with the principle that progress works differently can be ambitious. The traces of a shallow pool, the guardrails, might vanish. Set benchmarks and dates to check in, regroup and rethink. Your year starts when you can.

We should all be resolutionists

We set resolutions at the places we sit. These places cut across lines of difference and touch others. You might want to give back more, you might be longing to practice refusal in your work or in your education. You might be needing to set boundaries with exploitative friends, teachers, bosses, co-workers, or people in your life. Remember to keep asking questions of yourself, and tie your changes to whom and what make you want to transform. Find what distorts your progress and prevents you from making a community, a home for those striving like you. Lift up your voice and others’ too, on this new, difficult, and contested route.

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