I really hate New Year’s. Or maybe that’s just the curmudgeon in me.
It seems like I’m surrounded by people who are all excited about making goals and plans for the new year. You can’t swing a kneazle on the internet during the season without hitting someone who has these magnificent life goals beautifully plotted out for the year. It’s mystifying.
But, not me. I don’t do goals.
On one hand, it’s purely a pragmatic thing: when you barely have the resources to make it from day to day, trying to plan for a month out — a year out — a decade out, becomes a joke. Between now and then, something will go wrong.
The best example of this? My old friend, the savings account.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to start a savings account over the years. I always go into it with the best of intentions. And I’ve tried doing it in different ways.
When I worked at Chrysalis, I asked them to withhold extra money for my taxes. First, that started out at $50 a paycheck. A good, solid amount. Paid twice a month, that adds up $1200 over the course of a year. A nice chunk of money that I can do something with.
After the first paycheck, I realized that was way too much. Over the new few months, that number went down — $25, $10, $5.
Even the $5 was too much. Not only would $5 add up to almost nothing — a whopping $120 over a year — less than one car payment at that time — I needed that fiver. I was living off of payday loans and overdrafting my bank account to the tune of several hundred dollars a month.
Even after that job, any attempts at saving money fizzled out. There would always, always, always be a circumstance that required me to take whatever I had stashed away out of the savings account, to provide for some dire, immediate need.
There’s no use in trying to plan for next year when there’s a decent chance you won’t make it through the next week. It becomes an exercise in disappointment. Every time I tabbed over to the savings account to take out the money I’d put there, I felt like an absolute failure.
The easiest way to stop feeling like a failure? Stop trying.
And for me, the worse part of the nightmare is trying to set goals publicly. Because, even if I try to cling to optimism, even if I decide to give it a shot, I end up looking like a damn fool when it falls apart.
If this was just a one-off thing, maybe I could write it off: you win some, and you lose some. But this seems to be a regular thing. It seems to me like every time I invest energy in trying to do something, it falls apart.
It’s more than a trend; it’s become the logical conclusion: if you try, you will fail. When you fail, you are a Failure. If you don’t want to be a Failure, do not try.
I’m not saying it’s a healthy mindset, but it is based on experience and logic. Trying to assure myself otherwise feels like I’m lying to myself. Sure, maybe you won’t fail, and maybe gravity will stop working, too.
There is a part of me that would like to try new things.
There is a part of me that would be tempted, that would be delighted to try something and see what happens. But in 28 years, I have already had enough failure for a lifetime.
I have failed at everything I’ve tried. Everything.
Everything. Even the things that it seems the rest of the world can do naturally and without effort: love, family, friendships, relationships, that sort of thing.
I fail at the things that make humans human. Think about that for a moment.
I can’t help but feel that I have run out of grace. I don’t get to make any more mistakes. I don’t get to have any more failures. If I’m ever going to be remembered in a positive light, then I’ve got to succeed at something.
I can’t afford to try if it isn’t gonna break my way.
There are things I’m going to try this year. A sonnet a day. Writing more at Medium, so maybe I can bring in some more money. I’m working on a poetry chapbook to submit for a contest later this month.
But I don’t want to set goals. I don’t want to draw hard and fast lines in the sand.
But I can’t help but nurture that little bit of optimism that sprouts up. I can’t make myself squash it down, even if there’s a very loud part of me that thinks that the smarter choice.
Frankly, I don’t want to get my hopes up. But I’m going to try. And maybe something good will come of it.