The New Year

2015:  It’s hard to believe another twelve months, four seasons, and 365 days have come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye.  It’s cliché but time isn’t just just moving by, it’s flying by.  And with another year in the history books, January 1st always seems to be that “big day” where our excitement is the highest with the yearly chance for a fresh, clean slate. While I admit I don’t consider myself an “excited” person, I’m glad (very glad) to have the chance to start at square one once again.

I’ll be honest, 2015 was a pretty miserable year.  It’s weird to say because “on paper” it looks to be the opposite.  I had one of the best years in school (ever); turned my first internship into a job (have to admit a hefty dose of luck was involved with that one); and somehow will be graduating in May with a double major even with a full semester away from school.  Not bad…

But now at the end of the year, I feel tired – like I haven’t slept or had a really good night’s rest in a long time.  I’ve felt this way for awhile (really since February if I’m being honest) and it wasn’t until the past week when I kinda figured out why.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been answering a lot of political questions on Tumblr as of recent.  I know it (along with religion and sex) is one of the three “no nos” to talk about, but it’s a lot more interesting than the usual “where do you buy (insert article of clothing from).”  Don’t get me wrong – those are fine – but sometimes it gets a little #basic – after all, there’s a lot more important (and interesting) things going on these days than what brand is embossed on the bottom of our shoes.

It was during one of these questions when the word “apathetic” came up.  I don’t know why it made me stop, but it did and caused one of those annoying “ah ha” moments.  What did I learn? That the thesis of 2016 would be apathy: “A lack of interest or concern.”

Let me explain.  2015 was a stressful year, but a large part of that stress was self induced.  Stress is good – it pressures us to move forward and just get things done.  But no matter how “good” something is, there’s always a peak – the point where adding any more of something is going to result in a loss.

When stress begins to negatively affect our lives, it’s the result of caring too much – often times about things we can’t change no matter how hard we try.  For me, stress became something that I forced myself to just coexist with.  It went well for awhile, but there came a point where I realized it’s not about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war.  In case you want the stats, I lost the war of 2015…badly.

It’s difficult to explain, but I was too focused on too many things that (at the end of the day) just didn’t matter.  It was like trying to run four different races all at the same time.  Clearly impossible, but sometimes our brain can be pretty stupid for all the power it possesses.  For me, it was a personal failure in being far too consumed about having/being/doing “it all.”  No one has it all.  We all have strengths and weaknesses – but staring (and worrying) about our weaknesses doesn’t turn them into strengths.  It just makes them larger problems than what they actually are.

And that’s where this whole idea of apathy comes into play.  It’s about being aware, but not concerned.  Need an example?  Take college applications.  We all went through those miserable months (November to March) where we stressed, worried, and played that horrible “what-if” game.  But what’s the point?  Applications were submitted, ACTs/SATs couldn’t be changed, and unless you knew how to hack a computer system altering one word in your essay was impossible.  When I look back at that experience, I want to punch myself.  What the hell was I thinking?  All that time I used up worrying could have been spent on things I could control – like preparing for AP tests, enjoying the last months as a high schooler, or just taking a few moments to just sit back and breath.  The point?  I was concerned – instead of aware – about an outcome I couldn’t change.

2016 will be a big year.  I graduate, move into the “real world,” and have zero intentions of carrying around a credit card in my wallet that my parents still pay for.  While 2015 had its fair share of happy moments, I don’t want a repeat. Last year’s top gesture was holding my forehead in stress.  This year’s will be shrugging my shoulders in indifference.  The next 366 days (it’s a leap year before you try and correct me) will still come with its fair share of failures, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to close a chapter and start afresh.  Every once in awhile we need a good purge and while letting go is never easy, some things (even people) just need to go.

Apathy isn’t about revenge or trying to erase the past, rather a psychological act of putting to rest those things that take away more than they add.  It’s about being neutral.  Indifferent.  In the middle.  An emotion that is unchanged regardless if the direction moves to the left or to the right.  It’s really just being content with whatever the end result is.

I know it sounds pessimistic, but we’re all going to fail, make someone angry, or do something that isn’t the most popular.  Should we be aware of – and recognize – these times?  Of course – looking the other way isn’t going to solve anything.  But at the same time, sitting around and trying to figure out the “perfect” way to do something is paralyzing.  Perfection only exists in fiction.  What’s wrong to me is right to you. We’ll never be able to do everything right…and that’s ok.

The best part about this whole apathy concept?  It gives us more time to focus on the good – whether that’s things, people, or problems.  It’s an increased ability to use our strengths to make, change, and do what’s important to ourselves and those around us.  It’s caring about the good stress instead of creating the bad.  Stress will always be a part of our lives, but – at the end of the day – we decide if it’s going to affect us in a positive way.

So – here’s to another year and a new blank book.  Thanks to all of those who’ve kept up in 2015 and keep the comments, suggestions, and feedback coming.

Happy New Year.