When we talk about the new year, we often use phrases such as “clean slate,” “fresh start,” or even “New Year, New Me.” This year I’ve known so many people who were ready to kiss 2018 goodbye (myself included) and prayed that 2019 would be different. It’s made me ask myself: why do we like blank pages and new beginnings so much?
We cling to this concept because we want to believe that the next chapter is full of possibilities. That anything can happen. This will be the year that things go well, a new love arrives, a career change occurs, or a big move happens. Or maybe you’re someone who had a lot of loss in 2018 and want to distance yourself from the pain and sadness any way you can.
Whatever your reason to want to start anew, a clean slate makes us feel like we are in control. It makes us feel unstoppable. It makes us dream bigger, without restrictions and limitations we have experienced in the past. We shake off our old habits, relationships, goals, and beliefs.
But what is really wrong with the past year? With our old self? When the new year begins, we are quick to discard the old year like a piece of trash. We act like we don’t need it anymore. That it did nothing for us and we are going to pretend like it didn’t happen. But negating those memories can lead us to forget the journey. To see how we have been shaped and molded over time. Those memories made us stronger. They taught us something about ourselves. They gave us resiliency that we didn’t have before. Yes, some of those memories are hard. But they have also grown us into the people we are now.
Maybe you saw a lot of growth in your life last year. Maybe you felt like you experienced a lot of pruning along the way. Perhaps you even felt fully uprooted.
I encourage you to look at this new year not as a clean slate, but a new season. You don’t have to erase the past to embrace the future. Something happened to you in that season and you grew as a person. You learned boundaries. You found your resiliency. You realized how much you needed others and didn’t want to journey alone. You learned how much you loved someone or something when you lost it. You decided on new goals or how you were going to live your life differently.
Embrace last season. It did something for you. Celebrate that and then look ahead. Use those tools and skills to take better care of yourself this year. To practice boundaries. To mend relationships or to end relationships. To realize what really matters to you. To relinquish control in some areas while embracing it in others.
Goodbye 2018. You might not have been our favorite, but we learned something about ourselves. And for that I am grateful. 2019, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for all of us.