The arrival of a new year feels strange when so much of the year ahead is uncertain. Here, Stylist’s Lauren Geall explores the emotional impact of being unable to plan for the future.
While I’m not someone who subscribes to the whole ‘new year, new me’ concept, I usually enjoy marking the start of a new year in one way or another, whether that’s by buying a new diary or trying my hands at a new hobby.
To me, there’s something refreshing about this time of year – even though the weather tends to be gross and my bank account is still reeling from the indulgence of Christmas, there’s something exciting about the opportunity a new calendar year represents.
This year, however, things feel different. In fact, I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that the new year is here at all. It was only at the end of last week (my first week back at work) that the thought of ordering a 2022 planner properly crossed my mind. And when people ask me what my new year’s resolutions or goals are, I find it hard to come up with even the most half-hearted of answers.
It’s not as if my Christmas celebrations were radically different from those I’ve enjoyed in previous years – I spent time with family, ate lots of lovely food and did a lot of resting – but the feeling I’ve been left with now the festivities are over feels unfamiliar and strange.
It’s almost as if I’m afraid or reluctant to think beyond the next couple of weeks – a fact that I guess isn’t that surprising when you consider the turbulence of the last two years.
Just when I’d started to believe the pandemic might be stabilising and began tentatively making plans and thinking about the future, the rise of the Omicron variant once again cast everything into doubt and put me back into what I can only describe as a ‘get through the next week’ mentality.
It’s hard to picture what the world will look like come spring let alone December next year, so coming to terms with the passing of time feels like a much bigger challenge than it usually would.
How can I allow myself to think about what possibilities 2022 might hold and start planning for the future when the last two years have contained so much disruption and uncertainty?
But being unable to come to terms with the fact that a new year is here doesn’t mean I won’t eventually be able to settle into the swing of things – and underneath all of my pandemic-bred pessimism, I’m still hopeful that 2022 will mark an improvement on the years that have preceded it.
For now, however, I’ll be taking my time to ease into the new year, and giving my brain the space it needs to process all the wild stuff that has happened over the last 24 months.
When you sit back and think about it, it’s amazing how much we’ve changed and adapted throughout the course of the pandemic – and it would do us all good to show ourselves a little bit of self-compassion.
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