So, I’m a little late to the New Year’s resolution discussions. I may have missed the boat entirely as it seems many resolutions don’t even make it this far into the new year. But I typically run a little late, so I’m going to write about it anyway.
See, I’m not a big new year’s resolutions person. No, no, I don’t wait until the beginning of the year to launch a grand scheme to lose ten pounds, save more money, or be kinder to my relatives. I’m very slow to make new decisions, but when I make them – watch out! I’m a woman on a mission and waiting any length of time does not suit me. So I make my changes through the year, as the situation warrants and lifestyle permits.
Don’t get me wrong – like most people I wouldn’t mind losing ten pounds, buffering up the bank account, or make more of an effort with my relatives, it’s just I know myself and I know I won’t keep a resolution unless I’m ready. The likelihood I’m ready on the first of the year is almost certainly zero. Call me a pragmatist.
You can also call me a liar. After that rant I must confess I make two resolutions each new year – chew my food more and sit up straighter. I’ve made the same two resolutions each year for I-don’t-know-how-long. No matter how much I work on these, there is always more work to do. I’m slouching right now. And I ate my delicious dinner in record time. (I cooked! Can you believe it? I made shirred eggs and I highly recommend you do the same. You won’t be disappointed.)
Anyway, I’m rethinking my policy on New Year’s resolutions. See, 2011 promises to be an important year for me. Not only will I turn 30, almost finish my bachelor’s degree, hold my first full-time managerial position, and buy my first car; I will also take the GRE, apply for grad school, and play my fiddle in public for the first time. People, this (grad school, not the public fiddling) signals something very important. It means I’m finally starting to figure some stuff out. It means my life compass, which has been spinning wildly since I was a child, is finally finding north and settling down. It means there exists the very real possibility that I might get a good job and have a stable life. It means I’m even less likely to repeat history and end up in poverty again. This is huge. I have never seriously considered that I would actually find a good job that I enjoyed. My quiet, unspoken reality was always that I’d bounce from semi-crummy job to downright crappy job for the rest of my life.
But now I think I have a plan: I’ll try my damnest to get into a good PhD program. If I fail, or don’t get funded, well, then, plan B. I’ll become an elementary or high school science teacher. And if all else fails, I’ll become a naturalist. I have three options I could happily live with. I’ll work freakishly hard for option A because, honestly, it’s the coolest. I never ever ever in a million years of my wildest dreams thought I’d be PhD material. But it seems I have a shot, so why the hell not? I have, at various points, thought being a professor would be great, but such a dream seemed impossibly lofty. The whole process is overwhelming and a bit frightening. When reading through the requirements for application I get the same gut feeling as when I peer over the edge of a cliff – is it exhilaration or pure terror? I, at times, want to run from this very idea and return to a more manageable life. But it’s too late. If I don’t give it a shot, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. I’ll always wonder, “What would have happened had I succeeded?”
All this circuitous rambling has brought me to this: risk. See, a few weeks ago I read about a woman who took a little different approach to the New Year’s resolution. She chose one little word as a focal point for the next year. As 2011 is going to be an important year in my otherwise uneventful little life, I need a point of focus and a resolve to wrestle with big issues and fight hard against the tempting inertia to stay put and dream small. So I chose one little word for 2011, one word to remind me to think big, even when it’s terrifying. One word to challenge me to reach higher. One word that can shore me up when I’m feeling low. One little word I can blame if things don’t go well (kidding, kidding). As I plunge full-speed ahead into this decade changing year I need a word like risk to pull me from my comfort zone and remind me life is meant to be lived and not simply survived. Truth is, I’m more reserved and cautious than the younger me. I know more intimately what it means to fail, how much it hurts to fall. But this year I’m going to embrace a little risk. Why not? Life doesn’t wait. The impossible can only become possible through a little bit of risk. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen?
A few specific risks for 2011:
– Take the GRE and apply for grad school
-Go to a fiddle jam. With my fiddle. And play.
-Continue wholeheartedly with counseling
-Reach out more and be more vulnerable in friendships and relationships.
I think that’s enough for tonight. Although only four items long, that it likely enough to keep me busy for 2011. And beyond.