Looking Forward, Looking Back
March 28, 2017
2017 is finally here, and with it comes a barrage of “New year, new me!” social media posts, a surge in gym memberships and renewed resolutions. The start of a new year is always something to look forward to as it symbolizes a chance for change and new beginnings, so it’s easy to have high expectations for the overall success of the year. It’s human nature to be ambitious and optimistic, but the application of such desires don’t always come to fruition. As a result, we tend to denounce a year as “good” or “bad” based upon our accomplishments, or lack thereof. Instead of remembering 2017 as the year that could have been, we can take matters into our own hands and let it be a good year through our own accord and efforts.
Fundamentally, New Year resolutions are a means of putting your ambition into concrete actions that must be taken, but the investment of high hopes into a single year often leads to disappointment. It’s good to be motivated and you should never try to falsify your goals because you think they won’t be achieved, but there is a degree of realism that must be instilled. Being ambitious is one thing, but hard work and responsibility are the driving forces behind your successes. The things that are stopping you from achieving your goals are well within your control—willpower, motivation, effort—and by coming to understand that, you can take power over them.
Obviously, certain things will be out of your control whether it be on a personal or societal scale, and you will be forced to deal with the inevitable turbulence of the year. Setbacks will occur and your resolve will be weakened, but for the things that are in your capacity, you hold the power in letting those deterrences influence the outcome of your goals and wishes. It won’t come easily, nor will you necessarily accomplish every resolution you have. However, don’t let this year be another year where you are unhappy with the lack of personal growth or success you had, and instead, make it one you look back on knowing you were able to push yourself to new limits and expand your capacity for resilience.
It’s New Year’s Eve, and there’s a spirit of hope in the air. Social media sites all around are filled with posts bemoaning the year 2016 but insisting that next year, next year, will be better for everyone. Our friends and classmates are making cheery New Year’s posts and we’ve already thought of New Year’s resolutions (though they’re probably the exact same ones that we had last year, and they probably involve exercise of some kind).
Was 2016 really a year that was just collectively horrible for everyone? Every year, we’re optimistic that the next one will be better, and that’s a good thing — it’s important to enter a new year with a healthy amount of hope and optimism. But it seems that we’re in a hurry to leave the year before, dwelling on our past mistakes and fixating on the struggles we had, then writing the whole thing off as a giant disaster and crossing our fingers that next year will be the year we succeed.
And while achieving success, whatever your personal definition of the term may be, is definitely something to strive for, we also have to accept that we’re teenagers. It’s natural to be going through turbulent times. We’re growing, we’re finding our passions, falling in and out of friend groups, learning to drive and discovering what it means to be ourselves. High school and college are challenging times for everyone, and it’s easy to brush away the good things that happen in daily life and focus on the bad — arguments with friends, failed tests, breakups, jobs and internships we didn’t get. It’s easy to forget the successes we had because it’s easy to take them for granted, and often times it’s easy to let sadness, disappointment and fear override other emotions. But just because we failed in some of the things we pursued this year doesn’t mean that we didn’t also succeed — what about the tests we did well on, the new friends we made, the new places we explored and the things we found out about ourselves? Was 2016 really so different than all the years before it and all the years that will come after it?
Globally, many bad things happened. Brexit, Aleppo, hate crimes, Zika, ISIS, the refugee crisis, and for some, the election of Donald Trump. But infant mortality decreased, we made advances in life-saving technology like precision treatments for cancer, animals such as giant pandas are coming off of the endangered species list and the world crime rate decreased as a whole. Additionally, Harriet Tubman is going to be on the 20 dollar bill, literacy rates around the world are increasing and humans are becoming more aware of climate change (countries like Portugal, Iceland and Costa Rica are making huge strides towards running solely on renewable energy). Ultimately, bad things will happen every year, but so do many good things that are often underappreciated. Perhaps we stumbled a bit in 2016, but we’re making progress. And if we decide to fixate on all the bad things that occurred instead of focusing on the good, what’s to stop 2017 from looking exactly the way 2016 did?