I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. In fact, I think it's just about the perfect way to set your entire year up for failure. Sure. You'll behave conscientiously--go to the gym, eat extra veggies, drink less wine--right up until Valentine's Day rolls around and all those lovely ideas of a healthier lifestyle are tossed out with the garbage (much like the stems from all those chocolate covered strawberries). And then with New Year's Eve securely behind you and forgotten, you'll continue with the new year. And around late November or early December, you'll suddenly remember all those goals and promises you made to yourself: Lose 10 lbs. Be more honest. Get a new job. Only buy one new purse. And when you realize you didn't fulfill all those hopes and dreams, it's easy to be a bit put-out. It's disappointing to think that another year has gone by without you making any real changes. Trust me; I know.
But for some reason, I feel differently this year. You could say I feel hopeful that 2017 might just be my best year yet. Call it blind stupidity or New Year's fever, but I really think that if I focus on my goals and hopes for the whole year, this time next year, my life could look very different. I've already got great plans in place for the first half of the year: a writer's conference in D.C. with other English major friends, a terrific grad summer course with my favorite professor that ends with a nine-day trip to NYC with one of my best friends, a trip to Ireland with that same friend (to explore and hopefully semi-stalk Cillian Murphy--or grab a glass of whiskey with him).
(Peaky Blinders anyone??)
If all goes according to plan, 2017 should shape up to be a pretty great year.
With that youthful exuberance in mind, here are the five Austen quote I want to carry with me into the new year (and hopefully through the entire year, as well).
1. There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person.
I'm not the most open person when it comes to relationships. I'm a bit of a skeptic, really. In the upcoming year, I want to make a real effort to put myself out there more often. Not just in terms of dating and cute boys--but that will certainly give me fresh content for all of you! I want to put myself out there with new people and make new friends. I've met some pretty wonderful people in the last year, and I'd love to continue to meet more. And if I meet my Mr. Darcy in the process, so be it.
2. I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.
I love learning. There. I said it. I love school. And I came to the very recent conclusion that I think I'd like to teach at the college level (specializing in 19th and 20th-century British literature, of course). With only two semesters left of my undergraduate degree, I want to soak up every last moment I have with my wonderful professors--all of whom don't quite understand my Austen obsession, but they certainly listen my nonsense sweetly enough. I want to set myself up in a way that ensures I'll be a life-long learner.
3. Nothing ever fatigues me but doing what I do not like.
This resolution/reminder is to satisfy my friends who listen to me complain about being overwhelmed by obligations--obligations I took on because I'm terrible at saying no to people. Here's my problem: I don't enjoy disappointing people. It's not who I am. I like to be helpful and available. Being able to say of course I can do that for you and seeing the immediate relief wash over their face makes me feel useful and happy and good.
But there does come a point when you need to put your foot down and admit, Hey, I can't do absolutely everything. People may not like me finally learning to say no, but by this time next year, that's exactly what I hope to be able to do. That doesn't mean I'll stop being helpful or trying to make time for people who need a little extra of my work or time, but I need to make sure I'm taking care of myself and still making time for the things I love to do--like writing.
4. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.
People always say you can't dwell on the past, and by God, they're absolutely right. There are too many big "What if?" questions in life, and if we pursue every possible new ending and unexplored rabbit hole, I'm afraid we might just get lost digging through the past instead of planning for the future. The tough thing is that sometimes I think I can change (not exactly redo but almost?) the past by doing something differently in the present or future. That's a false idea. What's done is done, I'm afraid. People who fell out of my life left for a reason; the very same reason for the people who will enter my life in the next year.
5. We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we attend to it, than any other person can be.
I'm already a very independent person. But I need to better acclimate to being what we call an "adult" in the next year. This time next year, I will no longer be an undergraduate student, which is just absolutely crazy. I'm happy to take advice from others, and if I think it's good advice that benefits me or my situation, I'll gladly take it. I'm no longer some uncertain teenager whose biggest life decision is whether or not to get up early to get Starbucks before school. I'm older and wiser, and I know what I need to make myself successful. In the next year, I'm going to trust my instincts and establish myself for my future, because it's coming much sooner than I'm ready for.
So there you have it: My five Austen quotes to welcome the New Year.
Maybe you're a lot like me, and you don't really buy into the whole resolution thing (or haven't in the past). More often than not, resolutions can be kind of irritating. As soon as January 1st rolls around, the gym parking lot is suddenly full, all of the treadmills are taken, and it's nearly impossible to find a place for my yoga mat in the studio unless I arrive 25 minutes early for class (which is just so overkill for a 60-minute class). Even with all of the negatives of resolutions, they encompass the hope of change, the sort of hope I want for this next formative year of my life as I transition from a kind-of adult to an adult with bills and obligations. There's nothing wrong with hope. Hope is good. Change is inevitable, and without hope or dreams, what's the point? So this year, I'm going to put a more positive spin on the whole New Year's resolution thing and say Cheers! Because who knows?