I’m not a fan of resolutions, especially New Year’s Resolutions. Why? Because people who set them seldom follow through after the first two weeks and while they are in the whole process of bettering themselves they walk around in a stink of self-righteousness declaring to anyone they can corner how much better their life is going to be when they have stopped smoking, lost forty pounds, stopped drinking, start exercising daily and give up their daily coffee habit. I’ll admit that there are some people who do have major issues that they are trying to nip in the bud, and some of those people actually succeed – bully for them.
Resolutions never worked for me. I remember back in Catholic grade school how we children were encouraged to always give stuff up. “Now children, it’s Lent, have you thought about what you’re going to give up for Lent this year?” Little Joey and Sally would instantly chime in with how they were going to give up chocolate while Little Billy and Annie stepped up their game by resolving to take out the trash and not fight with their siblings. While at the time, in my seven-year-old mind I was not familiar with the quip, “Well played, Sir/Madam… Well played,” the sentiment I felt was the same.
I couldn’t imagine eating so much chocolate that I needed to give it up for Lent or resolve to eat less of it upon the start of a new year. And taking out the trash was one of the chores I was required to do – when Mom told me to take out the trash – I took out the trash; of course, I didn’t mind much because that was the age of hauling the trash out to the burning barrel where I got to set everything on fire. Incidentally, after breathing in all the toxic fumes of the packaging from everything in the trash, I learned to distinguish what various things smelled like burning and to this day can tell you if it’s plastic, asphalt shingles, wood, leaves or even manure that is wafting in smoke across the road. But, I digress…
After the chocolate orgy that was Christmas passed where I downed my Palmer chocolate Christmas Coins and Santas, bags of Hershey’s kisses and scarfed down a handful or two of candy canes, there wasn’t much in the way of chocolate or candy that presented itself to me until the next major holiday that was Easter. Even Valentine’s day was paltry with the offerings, candy hearts with messages on them that only served to make me feel bad when nobody lined them up with little messages of love on my desktop. Now that I think about it – I probably had an award-winning “bitchy resting face” even then… that was probably the issue. And I didn’t care for the candy hearts anyway, except for the wintergreen ones. And yet, once again, I digress…
I didn’t understand the reasoning behind giving things up that I didn’t have very often anyway or didn’t do often enough to make them things worth giving up as a child and I still don’t as an adult. Even now, I hear adults say “I’m going to give up chocolate for the new year/Lent,” and I wonder just exactly how much chocolate are they eating that it has become a problem that they need to give it up? And, hearing adults say that they resolve to help out more around the house or fight less with their partner gives me pause because I really want to ask, “Just how little do you help out around your house anyway,” and, “Do you fight with your partner so much that you find it’s a problem? You’re a grown-ass man/woman, that’s shit you should/shouldn’t be doing anyway.”
As a child, when it came to New Year’s Resolutions, Lent and even going to confession, I found myself making things up just to fit in with the spirit of the occasion. When pressed for my resolutions, I’d stick with the good-old stand-by’s: I’m going to eat less chocolate and candy and not fight with my brother as much. These were plausible, common and nobody would argue with me over their validity. When Lent rolled around, much like the directions on the shampoo bottle, I’d lather, rinse and repeat as necessary the chocolate/candy/fighting-with-brother lines to satisfy the curiosity of the inquisitor and expedite the end of the questioning. At confession, I switched things up a bit and would stick with the fighting-with-brother routine and add in that I “took the name of the Lord in vain X many times since my last confession,” when in reality I was so guilt-riddled for even thinking about taking the name of the Lord in vain that I never did. And yet, I felt equally guilty for not having anything I felt confession-worthy in my bag-o-tricks that I would make stuff up just so the Priest felt like he was doing his job. I’d exit the confessional and head to the pew where I’d kneel next to my uncle (who was always in my class) and whisper, “What did you confess? What is your penance,” like prison inmates who just came back from meeting with the warden.
As an adult, I find myself in many of the same situations, surrounded by people who are shocked and dismayed that I make no resolutions, don’t give up anything for Lent (the fact that I stopped practicing Catholicism after Confirmation doesn’t matter) and firmly believe that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
So does this mean that I don’t attempt to better myself? No, far from it, however I don’t feel the need to set resolutions or goals by some arbitrary calendar date or declare my intentions of betterment to the world. I know what I want to do to improve a skill, be healthier or not do any longer and if someone else will play a part in that – then they will be told.
So where does the title of today’s Sunday Morning post come into play? Well, my friends – I’ve discovered that I’m really more of an essayist than anything else at this point in time when it comes to my writing. I’ve rewritten my About Me page and have tweaked the short bio that shows up in the right-hand widget area. I’m solidifying my online identity. I’m branding myself, minus the hot iron.
But, don’t worry, I have always been and will always be, Me.