SWARTZ: Making resolutions…in December

Matilda Swartz

As 2009 rushes to an inevitable end, there are three homework assignments that individuals everywhere feel the need to complete upon the ringing in of the new calendar year: a refresher course on the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne,” a strategic plan of who to kiss when the big shiny disco ball falls and the formation of a crucial resolution to be upheld throughout the next 365 days. A vow to lose weight, to eat moderate helpings from each of the food groups or a promise to be a better. Elementary school teachers love making real assignments out of this custom. Right after snowflake crafting comes the one-paragraph explanation of plans to cut down on candy and video games. In my own 19 years, I have found that such resolutions are often superficial and if not superficial, then unrealistic or always fleeting. Blame such poor resolutions on pre- and post-holiday traumatic stress.

My gripe, though, is not initially with the resolutions themselves, but with the invisible pull that induces so many of us to feel as if Jan. 1 is the ultimate deadline for planning five steps to a “new you.” Why do we need a holiday, one designated 24-hour period to want to make a positive change? If, semi-hypothetically speaking, on Dec. 6 I realize that eating through my stress is causing unwanted food babies and less than 40 winks a night, I should not be postponing action for another three weeks. Why then do we fall victim to waiting, to remaining inactive until Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest say “go”?

With the semester reaching its conclusion in the most tumultuous of ways, with final papers, final exams, lab reports, gift shopping and the ominous thought that next year will only be a continuation of its rocky predecessor, it is understandable to get stuck in the present with little motivation to get a head start on the future. There is nothing terribly wrong with having a couple weeks of cushioning to enjoy our vices a little more: the last fried meal or the final days of non-elliptical machine frenzy. This pattern of inaction followed by a series of hopeful actions, though, need not be contained to the holiday season. A fresh calendar is not a sufficient excuse for finally starting that internship hunt or investing more time studying or creating rather than Facebook vegetating. These are deeds we should (in the most perfect of worlds) all be doing regardless of the chestnuts, the open fire or the threat of Jack Frost.

Call me redundant, but if we are going to take control of our own destinies, sitting around obediently for a celebratory event is not exactly proactive. Rosa Parks did not wait until New Year’s to refuse to sit on the back of the bus. NASA felt no need to postpone the first moon walk until Jan. 1, 1970. Saint Augustine was not under the calendar’s influence when he opened himself up to spiritual transformation. To make a definitive resolution to start your new beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2010 is as unrealistic as it gets. As John Steinbeck wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.”

So, my fellow students, I encourage us all to plan on debunking tradition and refraining from any agenda-setting. Whatever habit you are trying to break, whichever goal calls for your accomplishment or whoever it is you are waiting to woo, make something happen now or tomorrow or whenever it feels right. Just don’t call it a comeback New Year’s resolution.


Matilda Swartz is a sophomore communication

major from Longport, N.J. She can be reached at

[email protected]