On New Year’s Resolutions by Fellow Abby Deatherage '16

Every year on New Year’s Day, I read through my journal entries from the past year. I’m an avid journaler, and have been since the age of 6, when my best friend and I started matching diaries with pink-tutued kittens on the cover. Over the years, I’ve journaled just for posterity, to make sure I don’t forget the wonderful events that have happened to me, recording them just as they happen. But I’ve also journaled to vent, to process, to think through something. And I journal so that I can look for patterns, trends, and changes over time. So when I look through a whole year on New Year’s Eve, I often find hidden blessings that I’ve never noticed, or realized that something I thought had been my opinion and state for months was really only a few weeks. It’s always an exciting process, a kind of grounding, a realization of how blessed I am and how much I’ve grown over the years.

Then, I think about what I want for the coming year–how I want to improve upon my habits, my attitudes, priorities that I’ve let slip away. I try to come up with a few doable, mostly abstract resolutions. A friend of mine thinks of a theme for her year, and I’ve tried that, too. It’s hard for me to come up with a one-word answer. And every year, I resolve to stop biting my nails. (This year, I’ve kind of given up).

But in all of this reflecting, and all of this thinking ahead, one theme has particularly dominated my thoughts: the great leap into The Real World after graduation; the great unanswered question of next year. What city streets willI be wandering? What might my community of friends look like? What will I be doing with my 9 to 5 hours? Where in the world will I be for next New Year’s Eve? I’ve wandered the Internet finding institution after institution that piques my interest, pictured myself at each one, and the Excel spreadsheet of places and dates and requirements grows longer and longer. Where will I be? I can feel myself orienting my time now, my daydreaming energy, my goals, around answering that one pervasive question.

And then I went to coffee with a friend, a first year just beginning at UVa, with all the wonderful choices, new friendships, late nights, and exciting moments of four years ahead of her, and she asked me about my time at UVa–what was my biggest regret? What was the best thing of my four years there? How did I choose which organizations to be a part of? What would I do differently? What did I love about UVa?

For a moment, I felt a bit at a loss for words–unusual enough for me. I’d been reflecting on the past two semesters, sure, but suddenly I was remembering first year, a year full of new faces and wild adventures and ragged exhaustion, of learning who I was all over again. I remembered late nights in the muggy dorm rooms and basements of Bonnycastle or Emmett or Dabney or Kent, rooms ringed with new faces and playing games until midnight, or the gentle strum of a guitar and sweet violin. I was remembering second year in an echoing giant white house stuffed with fifteen girls and too many desserts, a semester rushing PSP and the gleeful sensation of a hundred new friends, road trips and giant sleepovers where I scavenged for a space on the floor. I remembered classes I couldn’t stop talking about, U Singers concerts with the full orchestra and a packed Old Cabell Hall, snow days and late breakfasts with friends.

In my big picture goals and resolutions, I’d neatly leapfrogged over the fact that in just two weeks, I am entering the culminating weeks of four years. Not that reflection or creating yearly goals are bad practices, by any means. I just happened to let The Future cloud what was right in front of me.

So, in addition to my year-long resolutions, my goal for the spring semester is to savor every moment: to let them simmer and their flavors sink into my skin, to say yes to late nights and coffee dates and friends and last-minute donut runs with my donut-loving roommate. I want to savor the lectures I have the privilege to hear instead of
distracting myself on my computer; I want to open myself wide to new friends and new ideas and new ways of doing things. I want to have more people over for dinner, for breakfast, for tea. I want to try the restaurants I’ve always wanted to, to visit the wineries I never made it to and hike the peaks I meant to. I want to live with two feet planted firmly in the present, knowing that I can’t wish the future any closer, but I can wish away the present if I’m not careful.

Reposted with permission from https://abbydeatherage.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/on-new-years-resolutions/