We’ve all probably fallen victim to the idea that as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, we’re going to radically change our personalities and suddenly become committed to exercising, maintaining a positive mental attitude and other unrealistic expectations. It’s the glorified idea of a new year and a “new you” which sets us all up for inevitable failure and brings us, rather than the radical amazing change we aspired for, simply disappointment in ourselves.
I’m not sure why I always expect to be a completely new person at the start of a new year because honestly, it’s such a naïve thing for me to think. You know what my resolution was for 2018? It was to be happier, and to be more positive. Isn’t that just so ridiculous to look back on? In order to be more positive, I’d have to remodel my entire personality to change my perspective on things. If people could just “be happier”, then I’m sure we wouldn’t be living during the mental health crisis we have today. But it’s like this with other resolutions as well. If you aren’t committed to going to the gym every morning on December 29th, why would you suddenly have the motivation to do so on January 1st?
In spite of all this, I think starting a new academic year is definitely more of a “fresh start” than an actual new year and provides us with a much better opportunity to change our behaviour. New Year’s Day falls during our studies whilst we’re in the thick of our classes and settled into societies and social groups, meaning there isn’t much room for change when we return for semester B. I find September to be a much more malleable time where we can use the start of a new academic year to improve ourselves. It’s more of a fresh start- you have new classes, new people to meet, new societies to join and overall just new opportunities. Not only that, but given the strikes last academic year, I haven’t had a class since February. I’ve actually kind of missed “uni life” and the routine it gives- I’m definitely more refreshed right now than I am when I return from Christmas break.
After months apart during summer, going back to university allows us to unite with our friends who perhaps spent their break at home or abroad. But it also grants us opportunities to meet new people through classes or joining societies. It’s much more of a fresh start than January because of the new opportunities it brings; an entire new year group of people join university- that’s over a thousand people that could potentially impact your life. But it’s important to remember that September also allows us to look back on previous academic years and set ourselves (reasonable) goals to work on. It’s crucial to always be working towards self-improvement and university is all about trying to achieve those goals.
This September, I’m going to try and start finishing essays at least a day before the deadline. I can’t imagine how much my grades have suffered down to me stupidly trying to spew out a 3000 word essay on the day it’s due. On reflection, I actually don’t really know how I ever allowed myself to do this, and hopefully I never will again. I’m entering my third and final year with the mentality that I’m going to be more organised and plan a bit more carefully. I think that’s a reasonable goal to set myself, which is what a new start should be all about- achievable goals that set ourselves up for improvement, rather than a feeling of disappointment or failure when we can’t become a “new you”.