It’s a new semester, a new year and a new decade. As per usual, the new year is likely being marked by new year’s resolutions. Each year, everyone seems to be rotating through a set list of resolutions: exercise more, go on a diet, watch less TV, make more time for yourself or drink less coffee. As I sit in Dough Joe’s writing this, while coincidentally sipping a coffee, I realize the one thing all of these resolutions have in common. They are all strictly revolved around one’s self and, in the grand scheme of things, seem trivial.
I, too, have started each new year thinking mainly about myself and how I can improve. Each year, my resolutions usually fail in about a month or less and I’m left spending the rest of the year doing the same things without any worry at all. Since it’s now a new decade and a completely different type of world, I’m suggesting a change.
Everyone around the world, but especially us “radical” youth, have begun to embrace the idea of simply accepting yourself. It no longer seems right to begin a new year with several different resolutions all about fixing yourself. Instead, I propose that each new year starts with resolutions about how you can improve what’s around you.
The political climate is concerning, to say the least. The once stable earth and climate around us seem to be changing and deteriorating everyday. And overall people have become more polarized, not just in regards to politics, but in every idea they have. So, cheesy as it sounds, instead of focusing strictly on fixing yourself, focus on fixing what’s wrong in the world.
I realize that in reality, the task of “fixing the world” seems much more daunting and impossible than simply cutting back on ice cream or hitting the gym not once, but twice a week. However, each person deciding to focus their year on improving the world makes much more of a difference than the one who decides that this year their main goal is to eat healthier.
Of course, each person’s resolution to help the world around them is going to be different, seeing as it might be unreasonable for a college student to make a resolution that this year they will single-handedly end world hunger. This is clearly unreasonable and impossible. But the resolutions to start volunteering to help children, recycle religiously and stop using plastic water bottles, help individuals become more informed about what’s going on. Enabling them to make better decisions or decide to speak out more often when they’re passionate about something. These are the resolutions that will start to have a great impact.
The world is in desperate need of more and more people deciding to do their part in order to improve things that are wrong around them. It would be much easier to simply make resolutions that focus just on yourself. You have control over yourself and it’s often easier to enforce those resolutions. Even if you don’t stick to your original resolutions for the year, the only person who is affected is once again you. Making some type of resolution to impact the world around you is clearly much more challenging and if you don’t stick to it, it’s not just you who would feel the impact.
But in some ways, isn’t that more gratifying? It’s always exciting if by some miracle of strong will, you stick to your resolution and lose those 10 lbs, or are down to only three Grey’s Anatomy episodes a week. But if you managed to completely stop using plastic water bottles, listened to the news every day so you could make more informed decisions or even voiced your opinions about different issues more, the gratification might not be instant but you would know that you had done your part, however big or small, to help make a difference.
Right now, it seems like many people are content to live their own lives and remain disconnected to what is happening around them. More and more people are choosing to sit back and stay out of the issues that fill the headlines, leaving everything to someone else to take care of. But New Year’s resolutions are about taking charge and changing your life. Instead of changing how you eat, choose instead to change how you connect with the world and choose to play an active part in what’s happening.
I will always be one of the many who begin each new year with grand plans of eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising more and spending less time watching TV. I’m always extremely impressed when someone tells me they’ve stuck to their resolutions the entire year, and I hope that people continue to try to stick to their resolutions about bettering themselves. But this year I hope that everyone can take it upon themselves to not only work on just their own life, but on helping the world around them become a little better too.