It’s the first day of the New Year and my various email inboxes has been inundated with sales and offers all generated to muster up this image of new me. This new me is, as based on the 25 or so emails I’ve received from various companies, a requisite of human existence. Now, I am far from the perfect person: I get cross, I nitpick, I fall into the trap of being too ‘busy’ for others, I lack generosity of thought towards others. Clearly, I am not such a good person. In fact, you could say, there is much room for improvement.
But when is enough enough? Which of these many emails with offers of help for self-improvement will finally allow me to be a better version of myself? I have lost count of the money wasted on gym plans unused, recipe plans uncooked and self-help books unread.
In all likelihood and in reality, none of these supposed fixes possess the power to improve myself… at least, not in the way that I need improving. In all likelihood and reality, I will finish 2023 the same weight as I am now, wearing the same clothes, with the same hairstyle and the same penchant for late nights, chocolate binging and Netflix.
I have been fooled over many years into believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with almost everything about me and my behaviour. I am fatally flawed and so, as each new year arrives, I make unsustainable promises to myself about exercise and food, my appearance, my emotions. I have been conditioned by companies to believe that there is something that needs to be fixed in my life… and, crucially, I have wrongly believed that they have the antidote.
Over the last few years, though, I have come to realise that this is not the case. Don’t worry. I am not delusional; I am well aware of my imperfections. However, I have become more aware that the shame I feel around my body, or my mental health, or my behaviour when I am under pressure, or even just my neurodivergent-related organisational problems, will not be solved by the very companies who have spent so much of my life conditioning that shame into being. I have become more aware that my imperfection does not require a new me each January. It’s not that I don’t wish to change, or even that I don’t think I need to change. It’s that I know that a new me isn’t strictly for a new year. It’s that I want to get off the treadmill where I am sold an idea as though it is a necessity.
And yet, I am hopeful for some change, because I know that within me there is a great desire for good change. There is a desire to be kinder (to myself and others), to go deeper into relationships, to grow into myself and my voice whilst maintaining humility. There is a desire for change that lasts and that matters; there is a desire for a change, not of my dress size, but of my heart size.
I am hopeful that, as I spend more time with my bible and praying, that I might become more aware of the magnitude of God’s love for me. I am hopeful that, as I become more aware of that love, I might feel less shame around the things which hold me back. I am hopeful that God will do the work on my heart if I would only allow him in. I am hopeful that I will be less nitpicky, less busy, less cross and more generous. Not because it’s a new year and new me, but because God is enlarging my heart and calling me to be more like the me he created me to be. He is calling me to be more like him, to be with him.
New year, new me? No. It’s a new year, same me. But this year, I am hopeful that God will continue to draw me close to him, that I may know my true worth lies not in the quick fixes offered by companies, but in his inescapable heart-enlarging love for me.
Happy New Year!