I love a fresh start.
As kids (and even into college), we had academic calendars as opportunities to start over new — clear beginning and end dates that signaled one phase was over and another would soon commence.
Something about that ritual of new clothes, fresh supplies and a change of scenery resonated very clearly with me because it gave me something to look forward to and something to leave behind. That natural progression of shedding and regrowth is something I crave this time of year.
The trimester system at my university was especially appealing for this because it allowed three chances (four if you count summer) to shake off whatever happened the term before and do something different to be someone different.
For high achievers, it’s a chance to outdo yourself again. For screw ups, it’s a chance to do better. I’ve found myself on both ends of that spectrum so I see the allure of new beginnings from every angle. Sometimes I’m running towards something. Sometimes I’m running away. Either way, there’s a kinetic forward momentum to starting anew.
But adulthood, for me, has been more stagnant.
When you spend long stretches of time at the same job in the same city with the same people doing the same things it’s easy to forget when it’s time to reassess.
What works? What doesn’t? Who am I? What am I doing with my life?
In college I asked these existential questions every four months or so when it came time to register for more classes. I miss that.
I’m 10 years out of college now but I don’t forget how critical fresh semester starts were for answering those questions to keep me moving in the right direction. Even if it required an occasional U-turn, at least I was actively steering.
These days sometimes it feels like I’m just along for the ride, rarely finding (or even seeking) opportunities to start over, even just mentally.
For those of us stuck in our ways in adulthood, we at least have January 1, an annual reset on whatever we’ve been doing and a chance to recalibrate wherever it is we’re going.
There are plenty of reasons to scoff at New Year’s resolutions, chief among them the fact that only about 8 percent of people are successful in achieving them.
But maybe achieving our superficial goal to drink more water or lose 10 pounds isn’t really the point of diving headfirst into a new year.
Maybe there are residual benefits to demanding more of ourselves even if we know we’ve set our own bar too high. Maybe there’s something to be said for tying up one phase of your life and moving forward to the next, no clear end in sight. Maybe in our darkest times it’s enough simply to know tomorrow is coming.
The start of a new year or new semester or new day or new month can be meaningful without a goal at the end of it.
For me, I know there’s a mental clarity and an emotional fire to simply kicking off something new regardless of where it takes me. So no, I don’t know what my resolutions are yet but I’m ready for you, 2017.
I love a fresh start.