*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!
Thanks 2020, it’s been quite the ride, but you can fuck right off now.
Around this time each year, I like to take some time and really delve into the year and what lessons it has taught me, but quite honestly, fuck this year.
I’m sure you’ll agree.
Let’s call it a write-off.
If asked in the future, I’ll conveniently not remember a goddamn thing. 2020? Doesn’t ring a bell, sorry.
It was a game where the points didn’t matter and we all lost. (Yes, we gained, but this isn’t that kind of article.)
In my home country of South Africa, from March, we, ironically, marched to the drums of a pandemic, straight indoors, and for many of us, directly into insanity.
I still shake my head in disbelief at how we all waved goodbye, excited by the prospect of working from home and being able to isolate from an often-taxing world that demands our constant attention.
Fools we were, naïve little fools.
Don’t we know by now that the grass is not greener on the other side? It’s green where you water it.
Fast-forward—84 years later—and we have found our way to the end of this year, looking a little worse for wear and wondering why the hell we ever actually liked wearing jeans.
But, before we cut into the gammon and don our Christmas hats, I have been thinking about what the fuck I would like to stop doing in 2021.
Yes, stop doing.
Because a new year’s resolution is as about as useful as a candle without a wick.
We start with the best of intentions and come the end of January, we’re in the dark about what we were trying so hard to achieve—while temporarily disillusioned by the palpable holly jolly of the festive season.
We create endless lists of what we want to achieve and then berate ourselves mercilessly when we fail on the follow-through. Sidenote: make daily resolutions and start small, you don’t need it to be December to decide to make awesome changes to your life.
Stopping something is sometimes easier than starting, so here are my top five what we need to stop doing in 2021, the year of—hopefully—some semblance of normalcy:
1. Buying a bunch of shit you don’t need
I won’t launch into a speech about how “Fight Club” had it right. (“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”)
But, I will reiterate that true wealth is determined by the quality of your experiences—not what you own.
We only buy things for two reasons: to feel better about ourselves and to impress people.
Spoiler alert: trying to impress others is a colossal waste of time, but as for feeling better about ourselves, there is endless psychological research that shows that materialism leads to greater rates of depression and less happiness.
We are a society in peril.
We have developed a dependency on external validation that leads to misery. It’s comfortable misery, but misery nonetheless.
Sure, buying luxury items can be fun, but basing your identity on them makes you a loser in the end.
Let’s invest more in experiences for 2021.
2. Hiding our Flaws
If you haven’t caught on just yet (it took me ages to realize) people fall in love with each other’s flaws and vulnerabilities.
As humans, we are simply more drawn to vulnerability and imperfections.
So, then, why is it that we are always trying to live up to some impossible ideal? Floating along like empty vessels of perfection.
I watched a video on Facebook the other day of a woman dancing, rather idiotically, with a caption that promoted that she was a bad dancer and basically said, fuck it, she felt the need to shake her booty and share it, and I was truly enamored.
There was no pretense; she really isn’t a good dancer, and guess what? I can’t wait to see another video from her.
The very thing she’d been trying to hide has endeared me to her. Why? Because she embraced it with wholehearted bliss and told Facebook, “This is me, hope you shake your booty and shake off the expectations of this tired world.”
It takes strength to show the world who you truly are—warts and all—and you will find, strangely enough, people will be more drawn to you for it.
3. Being offended
Sweet fuck people, this one gets me every time.
There are genuinely people in this world who seem to believe that they have the right to never be offended.
The whole concept of freedom of expression is that some people, at some point, are going to offend you. That’s as certain as a sunset.
This is part of the human experience, and unless you are provoking people to commit acts of violence, then it’s really not up to you to tell them they can’t do what they want to.
Being offended is a choice, and there is a vast difference between trying to silence others and to acknowledge that others have different values than you do—even if they are questionable as all fuck.
Be offended if you must, have your say if you must, but maybe 2021 could be a little more about understanding? Could we give it a try?
I’m certainly going to do my part in a free society with the “let’s agree to disagree” phrase in the forefront of my mind.
4. Trying to impress other people
I drive a small Chevrolet Spark, and each time I turn on the ignition, I say a little prayer that she runs with no hassle.
I call her “Sokkies” which is an Afrikaans word for “Little Socks.”
Whenever I need a reality check or to judge how I am feeling about myself, I pull right up into wherever I am driving to, in my tiny jalopy, with a mighty clunk clunk and ask myself, “Does this embarrass you?”
The answer to that question is almost always yes, and that’s when I know that I am once again trying too fucking hard to impress other people.
I have paid this car off, and although she is temperamental and needs a little motivation to keep going, I don’t have a car payment, and she has always taken me where I need to be, usually in double the amount of time it would take anyone else, but I get there.
So, why the fuck do I care so much about what people think of her? Because I believe they will see it as a reflection of me.
Trying to impress other people is a natural human trait, but it rarely works out, because humans are wired to judge others not by surface-level behaviors, but by a person’s character or by looking at their intentions and motivations.
In 2021, let’s try less to impress, and direct that energy into being the best version of ourselves.
5. Being right
I don’t think I have ever met anyone that has cried with great conviction, “I am right!” and then had a lasting good feeling about it, even if we do happen to be right.
When we know everything, we learn nothing.
And how do we become better people? By getting shit wrong.
Let go of the insidious need to always be right—there is no growth in it.
In 2021, could we try, instead, being open-minded, giving each situation the opportunity to teach us something?
We’re here to learn, let’s get it wrong, let’s get it right, let’s not be assholes when we do get it right, and let’s garner some wisdom from when we are wrong—and can actually admit it.
Cheers 2020, it’s been more than real.
I’ll be setting my sights firmly on stopping the bullshit I have carried with me throughout this year.
I hope you do the same, and also, good luck with those resolutions (I’m not completely against them).
With some luck, 2021 will prove to be a much happier year for us all, driven by authenticity.