What do we think about when we think of New Year’s Eve? Better yet, what do we HOPE for? Well, it’s usually something like this:
Ahh, yes! Starting things off with tearful kisses, ringing in the new year with lots of friends, cheery music sung in a very clear English rather than the original, far more incomprehensible Scots of Robert Burns that nobody can understand, pronounce, or make honest sense of.
All of this sounds like a wonderful way to ring in a New Year, right? You’re with your loved ones, you’re starting the year tabula rosa, and things are going to be better for you. The concept of NYE feels as if it was invented by the glassy-eyed optimists who thought the Metric system would work in America.
But the truth is, NYE is not like any of those things. THIS is what NYE really looks like: a hangover. If there could be any clearer metaphor for my feelings about New Year’s Eve, it’s definitely that. All those shiny, happy feelings, all those great big hopes hung on the beginning of a brand-spanking different year where none of the terrible things that happened in the previous one can follow you? It gets all mixed up in your poor brain until the stress from the realization that none of your dreams will really happen in the next year, that you will never follow through with your ridiculously ambitious resolutions, and that the world is still the steaming dumpster fire it always was is crystallized in exactly what it feels like to have a terrible hangover. Lose eighty pounds in the next year? Oooh my head. Donald Trump is absolutely GOING to be President and there really isn’t anything I can do to stop it? Oh my God, ROOM IS SPINNING! What is happening??!
When I was younger, the choice for New Year’s Eve for me was to either watch the ball drop alone with Dick Clark on the television in my apartment (I’m quite grateful that I missed out on the Kathy Griffin-Anderson Cooper duo) and sob quietly into a Rum & Coke; or to to go a bar or a party and be surrounded by loud, drunken obnoxious people who (when I was single) were constant reminders of how desperate I was to not be romantically alone. It was especially difficult because as an average-looking plus-sized woman, I would get shot down more often than not when I did try to make a play for at least a New Year’s kiss. When you get shot down on the one night of the year EVERYONE is desperate to make tonsil contact, it’s kind of an emotional shot to the head. I would make resolutions to lose weight, to be better with money, to find my “Soulmate”, to find my dream job/career, etc. And every year, either NONE of those things would happen, or they would happen and then crash and burn. And then I would be greeted the following New Year’s Eve with reminders of what a lousy job I did of making things happen in the previous year.
The truth is, there is something inherently sad about the holiday. You have constant reminders of the 8 billion celebrities that have died (Even more in 2016. The Grim Reaper was apparently on a serious cocaine binge when He hit Hollywood this year). You have Year-In-Reviews that go over all the tragedies, the political bruhahas (which was mostly spelled out in big golden letters that started with T and ended with what rhymes with DUMP in 2016). You have mass shootings to revisit. Terrorism. Endless wars. Things don’t really ever feel all that different, they only usually feel like they were even WORSE than the previous year. It makes total sense that we’d want to enter the New Year blind drunk and delusionally optimistic. Otherwise, how else could we even go on?
The thing is, I used to be BE an optimist. About myself and my capabilities, about human beings as a whole, about the planet, about the country. But the last few years have made that quite a bitterly difficult pill to swallow. It tastes like somewhere between a mouthful of Castor Oil and Alka-Seltzer. Not a great mix, I have to say. (Especially if that Alka-Seltzer is a narcissistic, racist, orange walking Youtube Comments Section). Between the horrors of Syria, the politics of the US (and the UK), the ravaging of the environment that we’ve all played a part in, the atrocious human rights violations and terrorism across the globe, African-Americans being gunned down by police, LBGTQ civil rights under fire (even more so in the coming year, it would seem), and the overall erosion of civility in society as a whole, it’s been pretty darn tough to keep my chin up. This is of course, without even taking into account my own personal failures for this year, which I don’t think I need to get into at the moment. Most of it involves issues with IVF and career woes. Those are blog entries for another time. The point is, this year has, on a global scale, sucked a massive bag of dicks. I know that’s crass, but it’s been a pretty crass year. Just take one look at Donald Trump’s Twitter.. All crass, ALL the time. (And we as a Nation allowed that to happen!)
Ok, so far I’ve been pretty dark and cynical. What solution do I have for this year-end conundrum? How do we make the endless suffering that NYE inevitably entails STOP??!
#1-Don’t drink too much tonight. If you suffer in any way from depression or have an anxiety disorder (and I have BOTH! YAY! G-d really loves me!), alcohol, as much of a booster shot as it can feel like, often makes those issues worse. Especially on New Year’s Eve. While it is a myth that suicides spike on Christmas and New Year’s, it isn’t a great time if you’re suffering from depression. I personally lost a very dear friend on New Year’s Eve about 5 years ago to suicide. So as much as New Year’s is all about having a laugh and some bubbly, if you feel like it might hurt you more than cheer you up, bake cookies or phone a friend instead. Or if you’re genuinely hurting, and feel like you need someone to just listen who will not stigmatize you for feeling like you might hurt yourself (stigmatizing the suicidal is a horrible problem that we need to end), call The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine. I myself have suffered from deep, seemingly unending depression, and I have other friends who have too. I promise you they will listen, and things will eventually get better. Don’t take this to mean I’m saying go all teetotal. If you aren’t suffering from actual alcoholism, feel free to have a couple, or at least that glass of disgusting champagne (I like Rum and beer, but champagne is gross!), just don’t overdo it! Moderation is key.
#2-Don’t be alone, but maybe don’t surround yourself with TONS of people who are loud and obnoxious either. I prefer either hanging with my beloved and some family, or going to small, quiet gatherings where booze isn’t the focus, and laughter, warmth, and perhaps some sugary goodness is.
#3-Fuck Resolutions. It’s fine to have hope for the coming year, and it’s always good to set some small goals for yourself. But dreaming big giant Disney-esque dreams of ambition and world-conquering might be setting yourself up for failure. We aren’t living in a Frank Capra movie. As nice as it would be to feel like everything you hope for will totally work out thanks to an angel that seems like a body double for W.C. Fields, it will more than likely not all work out, or at least not without serious speed bumps and road blocks. Instead of saying “I’m going to go to the gym EVERY DAY and lost HALF MY BODY WEIGHT!”, maybe say: I’m going to make small changes to my diet and perhaps work on a weekly/bi-weekly exercise routine. Or just walk more. Instead of saying “I’m going to find my dream job and never want for money again!”, maybe go to a career specialist and tweak your resume. See if that shakes things up a bit more. You know, baby steps.
#4-If you feel like this year (especially THIS YEAR!) has gotten you really down, and the new won’t stop with the fucking year-in-reviews, look at pictures of cute animals. It’s been shown that looking at pictures of cute animals helps with depression and concentration. Or even look at hours of crazy cat videos. Something that will help you escape all feelings of negativity and sadness. My personal go-to when I’m feeling down is this: a baby goose.
#5-Create art. Get one of those adult coloring books, scribble on a notebook, write a poem, sing a song, make a collage of the GOOD things that happened to you this year. Make something for someone else. Knit. Crotchet. Play Cards Against Humanity with your friends. Do something to snap you out of that New Year’s funk and get you through the night without waking up the next day in a pile of your own vomit and dead dreams.
As for me, I’ve grown less cranky about New Year’s, but no less cynical. I think my only even remotely resolution-y thing will be to not constantly worry about the shitshow the next 4 years will be with President-Elect Dumpster Fire at the reigns. I will be ringing in the new year quietly, with some friends and my hubby. No major booze. No year-in-reviews. I think we all need to take a page from Elsa, and just let it go.
After all, we’ve got John Oliver coming back in February to help keep us all sane the way Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert used to. We’ve got the Women’s March on Washington to protest Trump’s election. We’ve got a new season of Game of Thrones this summer to look forward to. And we’ve got plenty of Joementum to keep us from crying until Bernie Sanders runs in 2020. There *IS* hope. We just have to avoid the rough edges.