A lot of people don’t take New Year’s resolutions seriously. Sure, it’s a hot topic this week, but mention them in March and people starting chewing their lips, wondering what the hell their resolution even was.
I’m not like that. I can honestly say that my resolutions always matter; they’ve helped me sleep more, floss more, and learn the difference between “lie” and “lay” (still a work in progress).
At the beginning of 2011, I chose a verb in lieu of a resolution. As I said then, I’m a big fan of verbs. What makes a sentence? A verb. What makes things happen? Verbs. What makes a good resume? Kick-ass verbs! What do I do when I’m running and bored? Think about guys I’ve hooked up with…or conjugate French verbs!
From gerunds to present perfect, it’s a fine part of speech that serves us all very well.
Before you do anything in life, you must select a verb. You can begin, or quit, or change. You can choose, share, trust, try, think, relax, open, hope, serve, speak, write, save, flee, organize, believe, commit, or give.
My 2011 verb was invest.
Invest reflected everything I wanted to achieve this year. I wanted 2011 to be the year in which I learned to be patient, which wasn’t something I was really great at. For me, “getting it” always meant “getting exactly what you want when you want it.”
I didn’t chose “grow the fuck up” as my verb, but it turns out, that’s exactly what choosing invest led me to do.
In 2011, I made a lot of changes to the way I live. I didn’t completely stop spending money (I mean, come on) but I really changed how I spent money. I got a “real” job with a steady income and I stopped using my credit cards. I stopped making impulse purchases and bought with an attitude of Is this going to last me at least a year? Will it last me three years? How about five years? I stopped taking trips to Target out of boredom and stopped buying magazines (if I love it, I subscribe for way cheaper). I bought fewer of everything, but when I did buy, I always bought nicer, longer-lasting items.
I also invested in my health and appearance. I started this year saying that instead of flipping out when a summer wedding rolls around, I was going to invest in my body year-round — no crazy amounts of last-minute boot camp necessary. And I actually did that. I lost a few pounds slowly so my weight has felt very stable all year; I didn’t swing in opposite directions as the seasons changed. I invested more money in yoga each month than I had spent on a monthly gym membership since I left NYC, but the benefits of this investment affected every aspect of my life. I realized that getting a manicure every couple weeks made me feel more confident and motivated, and also cut my urge to go to Target and spend $80 on a bunch of beauty products, so I was cool spending $20 a month on that. I didn’t buy a lot of new clothes, but I bought a few things I loved, and I realized that with a body I was loving, a few outfits that made me feel really good, fabulous new hair, and manicured hands, I felt more polished and professional all the time.
And then last night I bought a new car! Uh, huge investment, right? My 1995 Blazer, bless her heart, was starting to worry me. Like, hold my breath every time I turned it on worried. I had a lot of anxiety that I’d need another huge repair, and rather than invest more money in a car that was so obviously not long for this world, I wanted to invest in something safe and reliable. (And professional — my Blazer’s wood paneling and turquoise graphics were kind of standing out in the office parking lot.) Buying a car this week felt so scary and so adult, but it was a really nice ending to the year I’ve had.
I feel like every aspect of my life transitioned; now I have an adult relationship, an apartment with nice furniture, clothes that didn’t come from Forever 21, a job with benefits, and I am responsible for two living things. I realize this isn’t a big deal to a lot of people and that I resemble Dale and Brennan in “Step Brothers” during the montage when they are reading a Montel Williams book in bed at 8:45 PM and cheering after buying toilet paper, respectively, but I kind of do want to cheer like that about my new car.
Suddenly, it feels like, I’m an adult. While I’ll obviously change more, I just have a sense of the beginning of my adult life. I wasn’t sure when I’d feel that way — I don’t know about you, but it sure as hell wasn’t at college graduation — but I do now.
There’s a scene in The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of my favorite books, when Henry and Claire are about to get married, and Hengry realizes he doesn’t look like he does in his wedding photos. (Because he time travels, he’s already seen what he looks like at his wedding.) So he goes and gets his hair cut and the line says, “And suddenly, I’m the man of my future.” It’s a transition point in the book and I really get it now; it’s exactly how I felt when I bought the car last night. It wasn’t really sudden of course; it was the result of a year of small changes. But now it’s like, “Oh, so that’s how I’m going to get from feeling like a kid still to feeling like a grown-up.”
So I’m thrilled my verb this year worked out so well, better than I had really even planned. I’ll be thinking about my 2012 verb today as I start the long drive in my new Jeep Compass back to Wichita to pick up Eric.
How did 2011 work out for you?