New year, new me: How comparisons have destroyed our self-worth

We always come up with goals that we want to accomplish for the year ahead and say thank you (or f— you) to the year that is about to end. The whole “New year, new me” phrase riddles our brains by trying to personify ourselves with improvements that we want to show others. I think the approach is pointless because the result is always the same: We find ourselves working toward the goal for the first half of January, call it quits and promise ourselves that next year will be better. We briefly focus on what we are missing in our lives and the arisen problems in the past year instead of prioritizing the growth that can be made. We cling to this idea that whenever a new year approaches, our lives will magically get better, yet we put minimal effort into trying to accomplish the goals we set.

Our goals revolve around obtaining happiness, good health and wealth through success, but the progress toward these goals gets lost in our heads. The typical goal people have for the new year has to do with body image: Often, people want to lose gained holiday weight to fit an image that the public will approve of. People start making goals, mapping out different exercises, changing their diets, buying gym memberships and scheduling unrealistic workout times in order to attempt to push forward with the goal. I find that people try to project their needs rapidly and want results fast without actually putting in progressive work. People then go back to their habits, and the never-ending cycle continues.

Social media also plays a massive role in this, as people only post about their accomplishments and project happiness without talking about what happens behind the scenes. Throughout the year, we find ourselves continually swiping and reacting to our family’s, friends’, ex-partners’ or ex-friends’ posts. Around the holidays, we do it more than usual, desperately wanting to view people’s celebrations. We slowly compare ourselves, believing that our lives could be different and that our goals should have already been accomplished, and the unrealistic New Year’s resolutions are born. I slowly began to make this a habit, and I found myself becoming critical of every little thing in my life.

One year, I decided to change my approach. I wrote down one thing that I was thankful for or that I accomplished at the end of the day and stuck it in a jar to read at the end of the year. Through the midst of traveling, assignments and loved ones, I managed to keep the goal afloat by keeping track of progress through notes. It was as essential for me as eating or drinking water, and I found myself excited to read them. At the end of the year, I read about the people who walked in and out of my life. I read about the issues and stress that overwhelmed me and how it didn’t matter months later. I read about my accomplishments in school, breakthroughs in artistic projects and work, and the loved ones who stayed throughout it all. I realized that I accomplished more than what my mind could wrap around. I became grateful for all that I had and learned to balance the progression of my goals without comparing myself to others. This personal project changed my mindset on New Year’s resolutions, as I decided to work toward a goal at a slower, different pace. I felt more in control of my life without letting expectations get to my head.

To me, “New year, new me” sounds like someone attempting to erase who they were throughout the previous year and desperately wanting to become an entirely different person. Their new identity would be a way to erase previous mistakes, which could ease their mind. It is as if there was a reset button that you could press, even though the only thing that restarts every year is the months. This phrase is damaging to our self-worth. The constant mindset of self-consciousness in which we believe we aren’t good enough for the world and our loved ones is something that needs to stop. We are damaging our development when we look and focus on the things that are “wrong.” We need to learn, instead, to love who we are and appreciate every little thing that is in our lives. We need to create goals that can take time to develop and realize that it doesn’t matter what pace one goes at, but rather working toward the goal is all that matters.

We often forget that the memories that we have created are who we are and that everyone experiences the world differently. The comparisons of our past selves that we have adapted into are simply ideas of what we think we want. We need to start focusing on our success in every moment and remember that being a human in an “advanced” world doesn’t mean that we should rush our lives. New Year’s resolutions should be fun and not depict simple desires, as they are a way to keep track of our development and earned goals. Our comparisons with everyone around us need to stop, and instead, we should compare who we were, who we are and who we are becoming. “New year, new me” should become “New year, better me” because our growth will be inevitable and our success will only be measured within ourselves.

Contact Gisselle Reyes at [email protected].