Why Do We Feel the Need to Be “New” and “Improved” at the New Year?

Why do we need to be different? Everywhere this time of year there are advertisements for New Year’s resolutions that will change you: make you better, make you different, make you a new you for the new year. Why do we want that? Why are we so unhappy with who we are?

Why Do We Feel the Need to Be “New” and “Improved” at the New Year?

Can we improve without needing or wanting or feeling like we should be different? Can we eat healthier because we want to be healthier without wanting to look different? Can we do the same with working out? When we say we want to work out and be healthier do we want to change our body or selves or life fundamentally?

I know I want to get better: better at cooking, better at working out regularly, and better at managing my mental health. But is that because I love myself and want to be a better version or a different version of myself?

I started taking a new medication three weeks ago to help with my compulsive ruminations and intrusive thoughts—things that didn’t get that “all the way” better on my current, long-term medication, but did improve.

It’s been extremely frustrating. My insomnia seems to be worse. I wake up at 4 or 5 am and can’t get back to sleep for hours and hours, if ever, despite extra relaxing time around the holidays. I can’t take melatonin on it and falling asleep is okay, if only because I’m getting so little sleep.

I’m going to meet with my psychiatrist soon to revisit this. I wonder if it’s just me or if it’s even a “real” side effect, because I spoke with two people recently who take it and have had no problems with insomnia even at a higher does than I take. I start to wonder if I’m just broken, if I need fixing. I sometimes feel like I need a new brain. One that isn’t wired so challengingly and non-normatively.

So I understand the desire to be different and better and new at the New Year. But I also feel sad for my poor body and brain that I tell isn’t good enough as it is—not thin, not calm, not always rational, germophobic, worried, scared, tired, sore, acne-prone, and cranky.

I want to correct some of these things. In fact, I’m looking forward to long awaited eye surgery to correct my extremely poor vision. But am I fixing myself? Improving myself? Taking care of myself?

Is it all of these things? Is that okay? Is it okay for my desire for improvement to be the overlap between wanting to be better and wanting to take care of myself? Is it ever possible to tease them apart?

So I don’t have resolutions, but I have goals for incremental improvement: work out more consistently to lower my high pulse rate and not for weight loss, to get better at cooking because it calms me, to go to acupuncture consistently, to see my psychiatrist and keep working until I find medications that work for me without getting upset that a particular one doesn’t work for me, and to take care of those around me.

I want to help my husband with working out consistently, to take care of his physical health, to eat healthy, to be a happy and healthy version of himself—not to change him.

I don’t want to be new or for him to be new. It’s not possible and, anyways, I’ve earned my scars and marks. I just have to do my best to take care of myself as I am and hope that I can make that person just a little bit stronger, healthier, saner, and, above all, kind. And that’s my hope for everyone for the New Year. Happy New Year!

Why Do We Feel the Need to Be “New” and “Improved” at the New Year?
Photo by Grant Lemons on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “Why Do We Feel the Need to Be “New” and “Improved” at the New Year?

  1. This is lovely. Fresh, useful sentiments about our thoughtless new year’s “buy in.” I appreciate this. (I don’t want your meds to cause insomnia, however.)

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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