We are a little over a week into the new year. As a society, as a world, we have come to see the new year not just as a passing of time but as a chance for a fresh start, or a fresh stop. It is a time to start new things and end old ones. We call them “new year’s resolutions”. And just as common and expected as these resolutions are, so are the jokes about them.
Like clockwork, whether it’s in person or on social media, one can see and hear people downing new year’s resolutions. Complaints are made about the numerous people filling the gym, making mood/vision boards, packing the church pews, or buying up all the organic food in supermarkets. People ask, “why wait until the new year” or say “this will be over in a month” and, sometimes, it is. But often these changes stick, or they inspire new ones. And I’ll go further to say that new year’s resolutions are actually beneficial to our society.
The biggest complaint and joke about these resolutions is that they are surface level and don’t last, that people aren’t serious about them. However, the importance lies in the community that is borne from it. While some might see a horde of new gym members and healthy food shoppers, I see a community. No one is alone, feeling left out or awkward. Starting out as a group makes getting to the finish line easier. This small microcosm of a societal tradition speaks to a larger issue here: individualism versus the group.
American society was founded on individualism. We stand on doing our own thing, making our own way, and figuring things out for ourselves. While this sounds good in theory, over the centuries it has created a society that encourages focusing solely on oneself and turned away from the importance of community. Many of us internalize this individualism. We feel we can and should achieve all of our goals on our own and if we don’t it’s because of something we, and only we, did wrong. All of these people and their new years’ resolutions should just start working out, eating better, or cutting off toxic people all on their own. They shouldn’t need a group to help.
But they do. All of us do. Community helps us when we are struggling with school, when we need help financially, when we need to find a job or get a promotion, or even when we just need a hug and reassurance. And a community can make starting something new that much easier. Change is hard and scary, even positive change. People know that they can start whenever they would like, but it’s easier with others there to help and support them.
I think we should all start rethinking how we view new year’s resolutions. Instead of making fun of the influx of new bodies in a space, which we ourselves so newly entered not long ago, we should be glad to see so many people having the courage to take the first step. Communities are everywhere and are necessary at every stage of life. Those who religiously take part in new year’s resolutions are a community of their own, and in this new year and the ones going forward, I encourage all of us to find our communities and support others in theirs.
By: Jessica Coleman
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