How to Stop Your Annual Self-Pity Party 

How to Stop Your Annual Self-Pity Party 

Photo Credit: Jeshoots

A guide to escaping the one-size-fits-all approach to Dry January and other New Year’s resolutions

Stefanie Menezes, Lifestyle Editor 

My New Year’s resolution is to quit drinking forever. Dry January — more like Dry Eternity! I am, of course, joking, but only because forbidding myself from touching alcohol ever again does not serve me. I do not drink often, and when I do, it is nearly always in moderation. My friends have been disappointed time and time again that I refuse to “let loose” — but I have formed both a resolution and habit that do serve me by drinking in moderation. 

My own personal rules surrounding alcohol are pretty simple: I can drink occasionally at a social event with friends, and a glass of wine from time to time is nice if I have an empty house and a good book. However, if I am feeling any sort of strong emotion, both of those conditions are made null. If I am sad, I won’t drink because I don’t want to rely on alcohol to cope — it is important to me to bear the brunt of hard situations without falling into self-medication. If I’m happy, I want to fully experience that feeling and maintain that memory without the haze of alcohol. Usually, I just don’t feel like drinking. 

The most common situation I encounter as an introvert is the temptation to dull my fear or anxiety in social situations, and there is no social lubricant as widely accessible to shy young adults as alcohol. However, if I give in, I will feel disappointed in myself for not doing my best to confront fear soberly. My personal convictions guide my goals, and reminding myself that these rules I set for myself are not arbitrary is what holds me to them. 

Everyone slips up now and then, especially with alcohol, because we don’t always feel our limit approaching, but those slips are what lead us to realign our actions with our values. We have all likely experienced regret, knowing or realizing that we did something that our best or healthy selves would not do. It is that understanding that allows me, who can drink in moderation, to set different goals than recovering alcoholics, for example, who know that they have to abstain entirely to be stable versions of themselves, or than my friends who simply enjoy drinking alcohol often and feel fine afterward. 

The great thing about New Year’s resolutions is that our goals can be personal… So why does half the population decide that on January 1, they will start going to the gym again, and by Easter, feel a twinge of guilt every time their credit card bill comes in to remind them that they have not gone back since January 3? I think the number of people who “fail” at their New Year’s resolutions would be astronomically lower if people set goals based on their convictions and even lower if they fixed their eyes on moderation instead of perfection. People will twist themselves into knots trying to cut sweets entirely out of their lives, fail, and ultimately chalk it up to their lack of willpower (which weakens their resolve for the next time such a challenge comes around). There are simple reasons that it is so hard to cut out sweets: because we like sweets, they are everywhere, and sometimes, they make us happy! The little things that bring us joy should not be dismissed so easily. 

When setting New Year’s resolutions, we must consider our individuality. Do you want to go to the gym because that exercise aligns with your personal goals or because all your friends go? Is it actually necessary and beneficial to cut out sugar entirely, or would you feel better by limiting yourself to a weekly pick-me-up after your longest day of classes? These answers may differ for everyone, but they define where we should set our expectations. 

As for me, I made the optimistic resolution to finish one book every week this year… and unless my readings for class count, I am already three weeks behind. Instead, I have reduced that amount to two books a month, which is feasible for my schedule and still brings me joy. I also aim to eat fuller, healthier meals more often, not because of some trend or fad, but because I want to have more energy and sharpen my mind. I measure this in ways that keep me accountable and encouraged: I look into the vitamins in the food I cook, pay attention to my mood, and check how my body feels. If I slack on a given day, I will take time to accept that I feel disappointed in myself, and then I will remind myself that I have the agency to make better choices to avoid feeling this way in the future. I will undoubtedly fail again eventually, and the cycle will repeat itself again and again. However, the next time, I will failless and less after that. Failing and trying again builds resilience and faith in oneself, and believing that you can keep a promise to yourself is half the act of keeping it. Do what makes you feel better and be better. From one work-in-progress to another, good luck!