An Honest Letter To January
By: Felicity Edwards
As February starts and I leave my flat blinking up at the elusive sun like a newborn mole, I begin to reflect on you and your yearly significance in my life. I’m going to be honest with you: most of the time I’ve found that you suck. Like seriously suck.
Why do you do this every year? As if it’s not enough that when we meet each other, I’m a post-Christmas, penniless husk of a creature, you also have this irritating tendency to make me question every facet of my being. Am I doing enough to reach my goals? Is my diet awful? Am I too stressed? Do my neighbours hate me for the song choices, blasted at full volume, on my ‘Clean The Bloody Flat NOW’ playlist? During December, I find that my neuroticisms are cushioned by a comforting blanket of celebrations, friends and family, mince pies, and Irish cream liqueur. Time is a fluid thing and doesn’t seem to particularly matter. I can lay, limbs akimbo on my mother’s sofa and watch Friends repeats all day and not feel bad at all. Ah, good times. Now that you’ve come around, though, not so much.
Okay, admittedly, we didn’t get off to a great start. What with me staggering back to my unmade bed at 11:00am on New Year’s Day, still relatively drunk and looking like a member of KISS dragged through twenty hedges backwards. What can I say? Tradition is tradition, though I never particularly like it when you eventually crawl around after the Christmas festivities, like a prophet of doom kicking me in the face with your inevitable winter bleakness. Then, after New Year’s Eve, I caught a filthy cold, which lasted two weeks. I’m sure you thought that was hilarious and utterly justified for all of my frivolity and excess over the festive period. I stayed in bed looking like death warmed up and bleakly staring out of the window at the fifty shades of grey that is Berlin block-of-flats architecture style. I was stuck inside and unable to do anything about starting on my mental list of anxious self-improvements. You made me feel low, seriously low for a while.
After plenty of festering in my pit of Netflix, used tissues, and ginger tea for the seventieth hour, I decided to say, to hell with this. To hell with your yearly habit of making me feel inferior, insecure, and anxious, but what I really mean when I say, “to hell with this” is to say to hell with that part of me that routinely punishes and berates myself. I think we all have the tendency to put ourselves under a lot of pressure and be our own worst critic. I’m great at doing this. My mind is usually going a hundred miles an hour, thinking about what I need to get done, what I feel guilty about not doing yet, fretting about time management. It’s exhausting, and actually, more often than not, this erratic, hamster-on-a-wheel style of thinking ends up being immobilising. Instead of getting anything done, I’ll end up lying on the sofa, browsing Buzzfeed and wasting the day, and then the self-punishment and guilt continues. This year, however, I’ve decided that I’m sick of this. It’s you, especially you, January, who reminds me of my destructive habit of doing this, because, let’s face it, you are the worst month.
I’m a firm believer that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. We have one body and one mind, and we’re stuck with it, for better or for worse. Despite this, we fall into the habits of punishing and unnecessarily pressuring ourselves when really we should spend time acknowledging what we have achieved and accomplished, and how far we’ve come. It’s a hell of a tumultuous journey getting to know yourself, and, for some, even harder to accept and love ourselves. But it’s a trip worth taking.
So, January, I still maintain that you are the suckiest month by far, but this year, you helped me recognise that there are some parts of myself that need to be addressed. I will be kinder to myself this year. I will not push myself to the brink of insanity due to stress. I will celebrate my relationships and show my appreciation to those I love. I’ll say “no” more often to commitments I cannot keep. I will strive to continue following my passions and goals at my own pace. I will do what is fulfilling to me, and dammit, I WILL buy that Nicholas Cage themed mug off Etsy; my housemate’s aversion to his face be damned.
As I finish this stream of consciousness post, I recall Sylvia Plath’s words in The Bell Jar that always inevitably come back to me in such times: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” This year, I’ve once again acknowledged that no, I don’t have it all figured out. But you know what? That’s actually okay. With baby steps or big leaps, I’ll get there. It is enough and so am I.