I’ve been jamming the snooze button on my phone since 4:30 a.m. Am I tired, or are my eyes just squeezed shut?
Ruminating under 3 layers of bedding, I cannot seem to recall the phantom list of responsibilities that required I wake up this early… Why do today what you don’t want to do today, or tomorrow, or ever?
The process of waking begins again as I whisper a prayer of serenity and stretch my body to its ends, each finger and toe reaching to the corners of my bed. I am both surprised and unsurprised that the racing thoughts that tucked me into bed by 8:30 last night have lingered at the edge of my consciousness.
The worries and wonderings hold my eyes shut with the determination and strength I wish I could muster for writing projects and resolves to stop drinking Diet Coke.
I start to assemble a to-do list on the back of my eyelids, but the items blur together with the impossible tasks of my dream world: a presentation in German, a reunion show of Guys and Dolls with old classmates from high school, escaping Lord Voldemort, and an elaborate heist involving rescuing Michael Phelps’s love child with a terminal illness.
My limbs weigh heavy, compelled to burrow deeper and further away from the present; at the moment, 2 more minutes of lying in my cool-blues sheets is my most attainable bliss. I mumble prayers addressed to God, or to my mom, or to myself, or to anyone who will drag my ass out of bed and make today seem smaller and more possible.
This day hangs in the balance, not yet good or bad, but slowly declining as I push getting up and getting ready later and later into the morning.
I squeeze my eyes firmly shut, waiting for the inevitable last alarm I set as a punishment for not rolling out of bed. The first alarms sound pleasant and soft, next my head, coaxing me to begin the day with guitar strums and plucks of harp strings. The punishment alarm sits on the desk across the room. This alarm wakes up sleepers like a pail of icy water in the face. Its yell vibrates the cheap plastic case around its body and rips through any remaining peace. I run to turn it off, lest it wake up the whole neighborhood.
I wonder today if I’ll do better—that is, whether, I’ll become the me of my imagination.
My imagined self sticks to every program I create. She sees the inherit merit of waking up early enough for a run, time in holy scripture, or even just to brush her hair.
The lure of 30 more minutes of restless slumber never dupes her. She’d never trade the satisfaction after a run for 15 minutes of staring at the ceiling. She’ll shower and start the day centered, a point of equilibrium, a well-worn groove.
And yet, for most of the years since college, I wake up to the new days and the new years in shreds of my imagined self, the torn up manuscript of a novelist, fed up and infuriated by her pages of bullshit.
I long to salvage each torn-away piece of the well-meaning work of art; here on this scrap two successful rounds of Weight Watchers, over here a schedule to get all my teaching duties done over a week and the three times learned lesson that it actually only takes five minutes to blow dry my hair.
In the middle of it all, I lay sprawled out with stray hairs and cellulite, days past working out regularly with little idea of which piece to pick up first or where the seams meet up to create a whole person. She seems real enough, in my imagination, but by the evening, I turn into the real me again, cleaning up the messes of the day, or trying to sleep or eat them away.
2015 dawns in a few days. And as the blogosphere hums with the most worthwhile of resolutions, I want to add my two cents, because I’m wondering if you feel like me. I wonder if you find yourself closing your eyes tight, still catching your breath from a few yesterdays ago.
2014 felt stretched across a fault line. January started with an engagement and news of my mom’s breast cancer and did not stop shifting from there.
The year moved in spurts and fits, leaps of faith, and devastating backslides. I started this blog. I started showing up to auditions with headshots paper-clipped to Word doc resumes. I cried through several form rejection emails and one rejection phone call.
I packed three different moving trucks filled with the most miscellaneous boxes. I lived in three different locations, worked for four different employers. Got married, joined two new improv teams and shared my work on three other blogs.
I stopped working out, ate burgers and cheese fries and lots of greasy pizza, but also lentil soups and roasted vegetables. I entered entirely new eras with most of my friend groups, started a monthly dinner club, completed my first non-Nicholas sparks book in what seems like two years. I grappled with envy and shame and experienced new depths of love.
It’s been a year of release. Where I stepped back at times and let things fail. Where I sacrificed security of not missing out for afternoons with my parents, answering questions from their jeopardy calendar, or mornings at my house nestled in bed, debriefing the week with Drew. I let things drop, tried to be more honest about why they dropped, and lived with the consequences.
So 2014 ends, a year marked by change and release, but also fatigue and doubt…
I am exhausted.
And for the first time in many years, I have lost faith in my imagined self, in her ability to pull herself together and fix all the things. I come to 2015 on the pessimistic side of realism, wondering if I slid too far from hope.
I read an article posted on a friend’s feed about realistic resolutions for those of us in our twenties. While I resonated with the importance of the long list, I found the collection less realistic and more idealistic: “get in shape” and “learn to make your own decisions,” and perhaps most intimidating, “be happy.”
A twenty item long to-do list of ways to be will never do for me, and I wonder if you feel set up to fail too. At 26, I’ve started so many years, months, mornings, and afternoons with the resolve to be a new thing. But the more I live, the more I see the possibility of resolve in the small choices we make in a day, in a life.
I have chosen to barter in the economy of minutes and decisions in the present. And it has given me glimpses of the real me. The in-process me with every intention of calling back the friend who left the voicemail and who asks for grace when she fails.
Real and honest new years resolutions reveal where we truly are. Why pretend to begin 2015 at the starting line, if I feel like I haven’t driven to the racecourse yet, or even signed up for the race?
Why make a diet a goal when I still need to master binge eating when I get home from work? Why pretend that working out 5 times a week will last past January when I still can’t manage re-joining the YMCA? I’m not ruling out miraculous change and decisions to transform cold turkey, but this year I need to begin with one step, and then two. I need to feel some success and embrace my failures.
I really want you along for the journey, dear reader. If you need help to transform your battle with the imagined self, or just want to know about how little I brush my teeth, come along for the ride. Revealing Resolutions will be a weekly series about next steps. It will be less about goals for the year and more about choices for tomorrow.
It’s about taking a bite out of life to savor and chew, not one so big you’ll choke trying to swallow it or so new and different you’ll spit it out. Some of the ideas I currently incorporate into my life, and others will be adventures I take alongside my readers.
I hope to hear from you about how you are picking change that reveals where you are right now to you and your community and I’ll share my ideas too! Do one or none of my resolutions, but do pick something small for yourself, a first step for tomorrow or today, and then move another inch tomorrow.