An arbitrary date change

new year

Intermittently, I experience periods of very intense sadness; I won’t give any specifics of what the worst end of that looks like, just trust me that it’s bad. Label that as you will – depression, hormonal/teenage mood swings, intense jealousy – but it happens to me. During these episodes, there are often lies about myself that I believe because I don’t bother to combat them, or I just don’t put in effort to figure out if they’re true. I take whatever nasty things my subconscious says about me as world renowned truth. These bouts of sadness can last between an hour to several days and in hindsight I can usually detect the lies I told myself and figure out why I got so sad in the first place. My most recent “episode” however, I could immediately see what the cause was; because it happened at around 9pm on New Year’s Eve when I was alone in the pool, watching snapchats of other people partying. I backtracked a little and realised I had not seen my high school friends in person since we graduated. I had actually only left the house very little for social events in that time. That was when my brain began to come up with lies to explain this.

I thought I was so undesirable that as soon as possible, my friends would avoid spending time with me. Since we no longer had to spend incidental time together, they were choosing to “ignore” or “exclude” me from the fun I assumed they were having (even though I had no proof they were doing anything I’d like to join in with). At first I thought my friends were to blame for not giving me attention. But as always, I don’t like to be cross with the people I love, so I instead blamed myself. Healthy.

I thought there was something wrong with me because that evening, I’d decided not to go to an open invite party I’d seen on social media. When I saw the post I decided I didn’t want to go, but soon after I regretted my choice and began to feel wistful towards whatever I was missing out on. Or perhaps I was such a pain to be around that people were in the right not to invite me anywhere. I just felt utterly alone – I thought I had no friends who wanted to put in enough effort to see me in person (conveniently forgetting my friends who didn’t go to my school).

Then I came to the true centre of the problem – why do I feel like this today of all days? I’ve seen plenty of posts about parties I wasn’t invited to in the past without getting upset, and I usually have no qualms about spending the evening with my family instead of with friends. I knew immediately. It was the date change. The switch from 2018 to 2019. My indoctrination in secular culture had built up this moment – you have to kiss at midnight or make new years resolutions or at least spend time partying with friends. In reality, the clock chiming midnight signifies a new day. We don’t get this excited each time a new day begins, even though it has the same promises – a fresh start, new beginnings, hope for a better future. Even celebrating the 1st of January doesn’t even guarantee we’ll have a full year to enjoy. That may sound extreme, but if nothing else it can motivate us to be proactive and take advantage of the time we have.

I know in my head the new year is arbitrary. I’ll be the same person tomorrow as I was yesterday and today. But I couldn’t hear this voice of logic over all the other emotional voices making me feel upset or guilty about not being invited/going out with my friends. I was remorseful on what I was missing out on, even though I didn’t know what I was missing anyway. If I’d gone, I may have had a lousy time. But this reasoning had no place in the turmoil party in my head. Only unpleasant thoughts were welcome there.

Granted, I’d had strong emotions and big questions battling within in me for some time, (that are still there) that certainly would have worn down my patience and ability to think logically. Deep down I sort of wish I didn’t have these aggressive doubts popping up, but without them I’d be missing a part of myself. That’s who I am. I ask questions, I have doubts and I unfortunately tend/prefer to blame myself before others. But sadness inspires me. I find some sort of peace or pleasure in sadness. There is a point where things go over a line and I can’t see any purpose for myself, but in small doses sadness is a very important feature in my life. I’m glad it’s there. I love to feel intense emotions. Heck, when I realised what was going on, one of my first thoughts was to create! Write! Explore this! Happiness and bliss are great, but they don’t inspire change. If everything is hunky-dory all the time, then there’s no reason to change anything. I don’t want to be static. I want to keep growing and changing, and sadness pushes me towards that. It makes me fix whatever is making me sad.

Please don’t let the pressure of the new year weigh on you too much. If the idea of a fresh start encourages you, then by all means make your resolutions and conquer your obstacles. But for us who can get a sense of dread with another whole year ahead of us, who are worried “what if it’s no better than 2018 was?”, try not to look at this as an entire new set of problems. You’re still you. Your family is still your family. Midnight just turns over a single new day, and you’ve already handled lots of them in the past. Some are harder than others, but at least they’re much shorter and can be over with far faster than a whole year. Yes, Happy New Year if that’s your thing. But I also wish all of you happy new month, day, hour, minute and second. You’re living and learning while staying uniquely yourself. Congratulations.

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