I hate New Year Resolutions. They are self-serving, narcissistic lies we tell ourselves each year; resolutions that reveal people’s vanity: I will lose ten pounds. I will go to the gym three times a week. I will do something new with my hair. I want to get facial reconstruction surgery to look like Michael Jackson when he got his nose blown off in the Pepsi commercial.
I’ve been trying to quit soda and sugary beverages since my senior year of high school. The longest I’ve gone without soda is 5 days. I’m an addict; there’s no Soda Drinkers Anonymous or a 12 Step Program for people with a menial addiction such as mine, so until I stop going to restaurants that have food that taste good with soda (and trust me everything tastes better with soda), I probably won’t stop drinking this sugary deliciousness.
We all hear and have contributed to these pledges. We should cease making selfish, empty promises to ourselves. Some people are more selfish than others, but everyone has their motives causing them to act a certain way. It’s naive to think otherwise. Maybe I’m too cynical, but that’s what I believe. I have a Steinbeckian way of thinking about the world. We’re all a little good and we’re all a little evil. It’s our decision on how we want to live our life …
Which brings me back to New Year Resolutions. I rarely hear people say their resolution is to volunteer more of their time to help those less fortunate than themselves. Nor have I ever heard someone resolve to learn more about the world around them. Resolutions always end up being narcissistic and egocentric. It’s about what can the individual do for themselves versus what individuals can do for others. This isn’t just a millennial thing. It’s an EVERY generation thing.
I am also at fault in this. The first time I consistently volunteered in Bloomington was after I graduated from college. Most of my past volunteer opportunities were sporadic. Do a Habitat build here, pack up stuff for a Midnight Run there, you get it. After not obtaining my dream job, I fell into a state of depression. I felt worthless, ate too much Taco Bell, watched third season of “Orange Is The New Black” and then re-watched the entire series. At a birthday dinner for a friend, I met a girl who ran a volunteer program at one of the local food pantries, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Realizing that I couldn’t sit through a third OITNB binge, I decided to volunteer. This was what I needed. I bumped up my once a week commitment to twice a week. I felt useful. I was doing something that was good for the community and for people in need. Yes, it was a little self-serving—a distraction. I needed to move and stock and grocery shop, interact with new people, lift boxes and not be in my head. That work made me regret not finding this opportunity sooner or seeking other opportunities I could’ve pursued as a student. Bloomington gave me a home for four years; it was nice to be able to give something back to the community.
There’s a Hebrew saying, tikkun olam, which means, “to repair the world.” 2015 was a shit show. Too many people of color killed by police for no reason, Syrian refugees not receiving care because of prejudice, Donald Trump. It’s time to take a hard look at what our priorities are as citizens of the US and as individuals. Do we want to consistently be self-centered or do we want to open our hearts and care for others? Do we continue to pretend that prejudice doesn’t exist in our country or do we acknowledge and work to eradicate it? If you’re going to make a New Year Resolution, let’s consider ones that will contribute to repairing the world, not about reducing the amount of cellulite on your body.
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