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The spirit of the new year

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By Melisa Egbeme, BA Social Anthropology

It comes as no surprise that the new year offers us a renewed spirit; change can occur in a space where change is socially acceptable—encouraged, even embraced. As one year rolls into the next, I often find myself making a video diary, reflecting on the year past and my goals for the year to come. As I’ve gotten older (20 years under my belt), I’ve been less and less inclined to the new year’s spirit; the enchantment and wonder that the new year presented in my youth seemed to slip away from me ever so slowly, becoming alarmingly apparent this past holiday season. Whilst I still engaged in my own personal formalities, it occurred to me that I had less of a vision for myself than in previous years. I thought to myself that the concept of a new year and thus the resolutions that came with it were quite arbitrary; even on January 1st, it’s still the same 24 hours that’ll come that have come for billions of years before then. The sun will rise and fall the same on this day as any other, I will still wake up and fall asleep as any other, and the earth will still pirouette in place and dance around the sun as it always has. So really, what’s the difference? 

‘New year, new me!’ is a phrase that has resided on the tongues of millions of people, if not billions, as winter blooms into the bitterness of the endless stretch of time we call ‘January’. An undoubtedly difficult month for the majority of the public after indulging in the festivities of the holiday period, with empty pockets and full bellies, the season of change is declared! Out with the old, in with the new; the pendulum swinging aggressively from decadence to discipline. In January, amid financial hardships and seasonal depression, we make the decision in chorus to be our best selves.

I believe the push to be better during this time comes from the holiday period, which provides us the privilege to slow down. Without the noise from the outside world fogging our minds, our inner voice becomes clearer. What fuels this drive to be better during this time? Perhaps it’s the luxury the holidays provide—a chance to slow down and let the inner voice gain clarity. While some argue for immediate change, asserting that the new year is merely a symbolic shift, there’s an undeniable allure to the January reset. Delaying change only breeds tougher obstacles, where momentum wanes and the initial enthusiasm dwindles. Comfort, it seems, is the silent adversary of progress.

” The hope that comes with change, and the support that comes with knowing everyone has the same goal – it’s unifying.”

In the face of clichés about deserted gyms and abandoned resolutions, there’s an admirable spirit in people attempting change. The communal aspiration for self-betterment during the new year creates an intangible camaraderie in the air. Everyone strives to be their best selves, and as students, we find ourselves part of this collective journey. The hope that comes with change and the support that comes with knowing everyone has the same goal—it’s unifying. There’s a taste of comradery in the air when the new year hits; everyone wants to be their best selves, and we should let them! Yes, most of the gyms will be empty by January 31st, and most people will fall back into their default diets by the second week of the year, but shouldn’t we applaud people for trying? Not everything may be roses and sunshine, but don’t we owe it to ourselves to believe in the possibility of positive change, even if just for a moment? The new year offers a canvas of potential; as students, we stand on the threshold of countless possibilities, ready to paint our narratives of growth and self-discovery.

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