Dismissing “new year, new me”

Illustration by Dan Nacu.

Shane Wade
Opinion Editor

The beginning of spring semester is always more hectic and aggravating than the beginning of fall semester. You first notice it at the gym, when there are an unusual number of people walking in the jogging lane; then at Shafer, when all the hummus and quinio are depleted before noon; and again at the bookstore, when someone snatches up that Moleskine notebook you’d had your eye on for a month.

Whereas the beginning of the fall semester ushers in a new class of students, the spring semester ushers in a renewed population of students seeking a new identity to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. They’re equipped with a semester’s worth of campus experience and they aim to use it.

In their eagerness to make 2014 “their year,” they adopt and co-opt lifestyle aspects held in secret and sacred regard. While large swaths of people embrace the new year as a time to recreate themselves, others dismiss the “new year, new me” mentality as an irritating, annual fade, emphasizing the arbitrary nature of this attempt at re-creation.

There can be no “new” you because there is no “old” you. We are who we always are. The “new” us is just an improved version of ourselves.

While it might seem like solely a semantic and arbitrary difference, it matters because when you can’t create a new person out of a person that’s still very much alive and existing. Changing yourself for the better is a responsible, positive choice, a choice made by a person with redeemable characteristics. If “old you” and “new you” are on the same page, just move on to the next chapter.

You don’t need a calendar date to start improving yourself. You can start right now, as you’re reading this column. There is never a wrong time to start being who you want to be.

It’s also important to recognize that your resolutions affect others, both positively and negatively. If you aim to be more generous, look to give to people in need within the local Richmond community. Similarly, if you want to be more active, don’t become more selfish with gym equipment.

Beneath all the stress presented by returning to school and working on taking the most amazing “Transformation Tuesday” picture, there’s a pivotal question we should be asking ourselves: Whether to recommit ourselves to certain facets previously defining our life or to not do so. What you committed yourself to last year or last semester, whether it be your friendships, major, personal choices or extracurricular activities.

As much as an arbitrary marking of the new year represents, it might be the best accessible marking available to some people. This time of the year acts as a natural restarting for us to make different choices. Maybe that means joining a new club and dropping an old one or stepping down from a leadership position to concentrate on your graduation goals.

What will you accomplish over the next few months to be a better version of who you are today?

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