The condensed version of this blog is: be a lovely person.
So, it's here. 2016 has arrived, amidst a sea of snotty tears, drunken regrets and high-levels of pining (or was that just the way I marked its arrival?!).
At this time of year, it's customary to make a few resolutions. Being someone who's sick of making resolutions that I almost never keep (for example, my fingernails have yet to go a full year without being nibbled), I decided to avoid the term "resolutions" and instead, 2016 is going to be the year of the PERSONAL MANTRA. I have many I need to stick to this year - some serious, some... well, less so - but I've whittled down the list to a choice few. Feel free to borrow some of these mantras for yourself. And feel free to kick me up the bum the second you see me straying from any of them. Just don't do it too hard. I bruise like a peach.
1. "I WILL NOT OBSESS OVER THINGS BEYOND MY CONTROL."
It's amazing how completely un-me I become when I'm stressing out about something I have literally no control over. I don't like that stressy version of myself and nor does my digestive system (TMI?). So, in 2016, I am resolving to be a little more Zen about it all.
I'll be brutally honest: I will break this one. In fact, I already have broken it, by checking to see if a Facebook message I sent yesterday has been delivered (it has) and read (it has not), yet. But there's absolutely nothing I can do about the matter and therefore, I need to go into a meditative state, to a certain degree. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...
If life isn't going the way I want it to, I need to look at what I can do to change things. If the situation is entirely out of my hands, then I need to just trust that it'll work itself out, eventually. Tying myself up in knots over things I have no control over is just a waste of energy. 2016 Emma needs to learn to be more Elsa about it all.
2. On a related note: "I WILL TAKE CHANCES TO BRING POSITIVE CHANGE INTO MY LIFE, RATHER THAN RUNNING SCARED LIKE THE PROVERBIAL CAT."
I am massively guilty of being one of those people who makes excuses as to why she can't do something.
- "I can't go and talk to the guy I've had a crush on for a ridiculous TEN MONTHS because he's got his friends around him and it's too scary."
- "I can't enter this writing competition, because I'm not good enough and I'll fail."
- "I can't go to the thing because I won't know anyone and I'll feel awkward."
And so on and tragically so on. The thing with failing, or being knocked back, or feeling like a socially incompetent fool is that they're things most of us all have to deal with at some point in our lives. And you know what? They don't have to kill us. Humans are rubbery little creatures and we have a tendency to bounce back. I should know that better than most, considering some of the ludicrously awful things I've had to bounce back from over the years.
Besides which, there's nothing worse than beating yourself up with regrets. A failure or rejection hurts - of course it does - but it's a full stop at the end of a sentence. And that sentence only exists at all because you tried. If you don't try at all, your sentence doesn't have an end beyond "what if?" And all that's going to do is keep you awake at night. Sometimes, however scary the situation is and however large the spectre of failure looms in your mind, you have to just give it a go, anyway. Mind over matter and all that.
Additional mantra: "I WILL LEARN A NEW POSE FOR PHOTOS."
3. Again, following on from the last one: "I WILL NOT DENY MYSELF."
Okay, before you all rush to tell me that I'm advocating a life of 24/7 binge-drinking, eating my body weight in chips and dying of excess before I hit 40... Nope. All things in moderation, obviously.
BUT: Life is short ("and you are hot" - sorry, couldn't resist a Doctor Who quote). In no way do I think we should blow all our life savings on frivolities, or gorge ourselves into a food coma, but nor do I think we should sit, munching on a lettuce leaf, talking ourselves out of things we want to do.
Yes, we should look after ourselves and live our lives with a degree of sensible-thinking, but there's going to come a day where every single one of us will close our eyes for the last time and few of us can ever know when that will be. I'll say it again: LIFE IS SHORT. Much too short to be spent denying ourselves little bursts of happiness.
Eat the damn cake. Buy the shoes. Stay out later than you planned. Don't deny yourself the chance to make memories or, at the very least, to put a smile on your face.
Did I mention that life is short?!
4. "I WILL BE HONEST WITH MYSELF."
Thanks to giphy.com for this illustration of how my nose got so big.
I know that I am over-analytical. I know that I look at everything I do with a critical eye. There are probably many reasons for it, but this is a supposedly light-hearted blog, not a terrifying journey into the inner-workings of my tortured mind, so we'll leave those reasons to one side, for now.
The thing is, I like to think that by being very self-aware, I'm always honest with myself. In truth, I'm not, really. Sometimes, I tell myself I don't care about something, when the reality is, I care so much about it that it keeps me awake at night. Or, I'll tell myself I'm fine, when I'm anything but. It's not just me, either; we all do it, to varying degrees.
The fact of the matter is that if we can't be honest with ourselves, then we're never going to be truly honest with anyone else. And that sucks. So, even if it means feeling a bit of pain, or making ourselves vulnerable, we ought to accept our feelings and own up to them, if only to ourselves. Plus, once we start admitting "okay, I feel a bit angry or upset about this, even though I've said I'm fine," we inevitably start finding solutions to problems. Just by admitting that we feel a certain way, we start to understand ourselves better and the path we're on gets that bit clearer.
Also, once you're honest with yourself about the way you feel about people or situations, it becomes ever so slightly easier to be honest with those around you, too. Telling others how you're really feeling doesn't have to be some big, touchy-feely deal (unless you want it to be; I mean, whatever works for you...), but it can definitely lighten the load.
5. And speaking of "lightening" things... "I WILL NOT USE MY PHONE WHEN I'M SUPPOSED TO BE ASLEEP."
No make up selfie. Only two years too late.
Seriously, though. It hurts my eyes. Why do I do it?! What Earth-shattering thing is going to be happening on Twitter that I simply cannot miss?! WHY MUST I CONTINUALLY CHECK FACEBOOK MESSAGES THAT HAVE BEEN DELIVERED BUT NOT SEEN?!
I am in a very serious, deeply committed relationship with my bed. Sleep is my "other half." Why I feel the need to then whip out my phone, squint in the darkness and scroll through endless mundane rubbish, when I could be blissfully zonked out beneath the duvet, is anyone's guess. But as from now, unless you're a friend in serious trouble, if you message me when I'm in bed with the lights out, you're not getting a reply until the morning. Twitter, Facebook and the like can wait. My beauty sleep, as evidenced by the panda-circles around my eyes, simply cannot.
If there is such a thing as puppy-broodiness, I now have it.
So, there we are. My mantras for 2016. I won't always stick to them as rigidly as I probably should and I'm bound to think of a few more as the year goes on, but I reckon if I try to live by them as much as I can, I'm giving myself the best chance of a bloody good year. Here's hoping.