It is safe to say that I wasted most of 2020 scrolling through TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. When school shut down on March 15, 2020, it was as if someone granted me a vacation from life. For once, I could stop being a functional member of society, drown in a plethora of books, and waste an ungodly amount of time without punishment. The minute I saw Edsby explode with messages of freedom, I took my then well-deserved leave and disappeared from the face of the Earth.
However, a vacation needs to end at one point or another. Lazy days are only acceptable when an adequate amount of productive work is achieved. But throughout this entire year – whether in quarantine or not – I was always in a state of vacation. I am entitled to this break! When the world opens up again, I will return to my former self. What is the point of getting out of bed when there is nothing to do? My mind incessantly pulled excuses out of a magic hat while I obviously nodded in awe – time slipping by without any mercy.
I was like Augustus Gloop entering Charlie’s chocolate factory for the first time. So much freedom! Simply looking through the empty days made me dizzy, and I ate it all as one would inhale air. But as I stand at the end of this painfully memorable year, I have little memories to take away from it. I did so little, but I talked so much. That is not who I am! Yet, this was the Nazeefa of 2020.
I have just finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and I believe that Mark Manson’s words came to me at the right moment in my life. It was as if he was my aggressive gym teacher, screaming at me through the pages, as I clutched onto my entitlement, unable to do even one pull up. He showed me that my inability to be productive was not just a result of laziness – it was a lack of healthy mental habits. Why did I change as a person as soon as nobody was watching me anymore? Why do I need constant encouragement from my environment to stay motivated? Why does it take a pandemic for me to become self aware and finally tune into my mind’s needs?
In 2020, I became too obsessed with the world and my place in it. Pundit analysis, statistics, and stretched out hyperboles of the news became my reality. Little did I realize an entire year washed away while I remained stagnant in my mental and emotional growth. I wanted success and excellence in my life, but if my persona changes at the slightest inconvenience, do I even deserve it? Dreaming big and hoping for a reward at the end of it is not a healthy way to live. Therefore, I am making a promise to myself for this coming year – I will not let anything or anyone sway my stride, be it a meteor shower or a tempting documentary during a study session. If round two of Covid-19 shakes the very core of society again, I will obviously work away. I am still infatuated with the world and my place in it, but I need to moderate and exchange it for future satisfaction.
Because of my sudden desire to be better, I am doing something that would make all of my leadership teachers proud: making my first ever New Years resolution. I know, very corny, right? My 2019 self wouldn’t have even bothered to write one because she already had in her mind that she would give up halfway through the year. I had my motivation trend mapped out since Grade 7; I always get sudden bursts of energy in January, March, July, September, and October. Then, for the rest of the year, I live life as if it isn’t my own, as if time will wait for my motivation surges like I do.
The following are some of the things that I want to do better. No, this is not for a scholarship, assignment, or because my parents told me to. This resolution is coming from my heart, from my regret of wasting an entire year just because of an external factor beyond my control. This is a pledge to regain my self control and mental stability again. The goals on this blog are going to be generic and impersonal, as anyone reading it could adopt these practices into their lives. My personal list is much longer.
People aren’t drugs.
Human beings are propelled to interact with one another. Very few normal people can spend a moderate amount of time in isolation. Ironically, however, quarantine resulted in a social interaction overload for me. Being unable to handle being by myself, I filled my hours with texting close friends and irrelevant ones. I was addicted to conversation, which was harmless on the outside, but malnourished my soul. People need time away from others to process their surroundings and ultimately weed out interactions that hold little value.
I had suffocated myself with people, using the excuse of being an extrovert to cover up the damage. This year, I want to carve out at least an hour a week to just sit by myself and think about life. Where do I want to go? What type of lifestyle do I want? Who needs to leave my life right now? Who is trying to harm me? Who am I harming? Accountability comes in the form of asking hard questions – questions that tear our souls and piece it back together again. It is addicting to want to talk to people – to feel important and intellectually challenged in friendly debate and Socratic seminar. But arguing and playing the devil’s advocate with one’s mind is also fulfilling, and should be a practice we take part in often.
Get off the phone.
I used to take pride in being one member of my generation who isn’t addicted to technology. While I never spoke this egotistical phrase out loud, and rarely admitted it to myself, it sat in my heart and parasitically made me a hypocrite. Mockingly, I pointed fingers at others while three of my fingers pointed straight back at me. My screen time increased exponentially, not because of the pandemic, but rather due to my lack of self-control. As a result, I read much fewer books than I had intended to for 2020. That fact hurt me like nothing else. Books are my lifeline. They give me strength to face this world with empathy, knowledge, and perspective. Technology – mainly my irresponsibility with it – resulted in a less informed global citizen writing for you today. I will use this regret as strength to avoid temptation for the next year and beyond.
Just do it.
People see my color coded notes and agenda and immediately assume that I follow through all of the plans that I make. In reality, most of my goals whither away as soon as I write them, as my mindset of “what is the point” kicks in. Usually, I never really do anything until I have no choice, until the last minute comes around and I scramble my way to the finish line.
My approach to life is highly erratic. Yes, I do have ambitions, but my journey to get to them is ambiguous and poorly planned. Spontaneity is a great characteristic to have, but when it reaches a point of harm and disastrous ruin, moderation is needed. I love my erratic side. It is what made me sit down and vomit out a thousand word resolution out of nowhere. But I also despise my erratic side, when it chains me to the bed with a guise of laziness.
Laziness is not an effect. It is a choice. We actively choose to be lazy because we are too lazy to be active. Following this, productivity is a result of hard work, grit, and humility. I am out of shape and I need to hit the mental gym and lift some weights now, before it is too late – before I find myself looking back at five years of my life instead of one and seeing that no change has occurred.
To me, just doing it means waking up in the morning with the mantra of getting work done. It means personal promises of filling my day with meaningful actions and interactions, no matter how small they may be. It means having strength to avoid choices that will dim my life’s purpose.
The world doesn’t owe us anything.
Mark Manson talked a lot about entitlement in his book, and I realized how thick of a layer grew on my heart. Somehow, the idea that the world being mine and mine only seeped into my mind, and I let it grow on without restraint. And I thought I was a humble person! I was proud of being humble. The irony is too much to bear,
We all want to do something great, especially in our youth. Having big dreams is encouraged in society for noble reasons, but the definition of greatness is very convoluted. Success, as with laziness, is not a result. It is a choice we make every second of our lives. We are great, just as we are, just as we look, just as we believe, and just as we choose. Therefore, an individual wanting to be extraordinary needs to be satisfied with being ordinary first. I now understand that ordinary is beautiful. Ordinary people change the world without expectation.
I strive now to be ordinary, and okay without reward. I do not need medals and compliments to strive for excellence. I am okay with falling flat on my face, bloodied and bruised and in pain. Because that is what life is; unfair. I can be as good of a person I want to be, but horrible events can wash past without mercy. It is a matter of choosing responsibility over accusation, and hope over defeat.
Begin with the end in mind.
This is a phrase taken directly out of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, another self-help book that increased my overall self awareness. But I want to take this phrase a little bit further. What is the ultimate end? Is it my high school diploma? Is it finishing university? Is it finally settling down with the person I love in a city that I love?
Those were all rhetorical questions by the way. The end is death. I am beginning 2021, knowing that the years will end for me one day. One day, I will not have breaths left to write New Year’s resolutions, because someone will be reading prayers over my corpse and burying away my body and memory. In youth, death seems so far away, something affecting everybody around us but us. In youth, we feel immortal. Our parents complain about back pain, saying, “You will understand when you are older, my dear” but there is disbelief rooted in our hearts – at least, in mine.
I took an entire year of vacation. A year completely wasted and untouched. A year going to the garbage not because of the pandemic, but rather because of my response to it. My goals for 2020 had no end. I will get back on track as soon as everything goes back to normal. When is that? I don’t know. Nobody in the world knows! But we all know that our death is coming closer and closer, day by day. This should motivate me to use all of 2021 so that nothing is regretted.
I am beginning 2021 with the intention of growth, satisfaction, and healthy mental habits, and I hope by the end of it, I am a better person – one with control, humility, and strength. I encourage those who find themselves in the same position as me to do the same.