I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions every time January 1 rolls around. To me, resolutions are little more than exercises in futility, frustration, and disappointment. I start out with the best intentions but rarely follow through with whatever I’ve promised to accomplish by the next December 31. Some of my past resolutions have been as cliché as you can possibly get: lose weight, eat healthier, be more financially responsible, go to bed earlier and get more sleep, at least on work nights. By the end of the year, I’m five pounds heavier, stuffing my face with Christmas cookies, broke, and exhausted from staying up too late every night playing far too many games of Words With Friends. So a while back I made a New Year’s resolution not to make any more New Year’s resolutions. This is one I actually found success with, until this year when I decided to make two. Eh, well, maybe it’s a resolution I’ll actually be glad I broke.
My first resolution is to try and be more open to new things, and the term “things” is all-encompassing. I’m vowing to open myself up to new experiences, new food, new people, new topics to learn about, and anything else new that happens to cross my path. I’m going to try saying “yes” more and stop saying “no” so often. The only exception I’m adding to this is anything that has to do with snakes. If someone asks me if I’d like to hold a Burmese python or make a visit to the reptile house at the local zoo, my answer will be an automatic and emphatic “NO,” as it always has been. I mean I’m not looking to make this a foray into insanity. But at this moment in time, if someone asked me to go sky diving with them, I think I would say yes despite the fact that I have a serious fear of heights, am not particularly fond of flying, and not really interested in testing the possibility of dying by way of crashing to the earth at 120 miles per hour and becoming little more than a splatter on the ground. I would at least consider it, though, and if I’m not given enough time to thoroughly think it through, I’d probably go for it. I won’t know if I don’t like something until I’ve tried it, right? Or until I’m squished onto the ground, flattened like a pancake. But at that point, I most likely won’t know the difference anyway.
I want to try making my palette a little more adventurous, which shouldn’t be that hard considering I’m one of the pickiest eaters to ever live. I’m trying to work up the nerve to eat fish, which I’m sure sounds entirely lame to many of you who have no qualms about consuming the scaly, slimy, creepy creatures. The furthest I’ll go into the pescatarian world is canned tuna or a nice piece of salmon that doesn’t have the slightest hint of fishiness to it. I’d like to figure out how to branch out a little bit, though, if for no other reason than the health benefits of eating fish more often. If I could find a piece of fish that looks, tastes, feels, and smells like chicken, I’d be golden. Chicken I can handle. Maybe it will just be a matter of getting past that first bite and then telling myself, “It’s not so bad…really! Just Swallow! Hurry up, get some water and wash it down!” But God help me if anyone ever puts a plate down in front of me with a fully intact cooked fish on it complete with tail, fins, scales, and eyeballs staring up at me and piercing my soul with its silent cry of “Please don’t eat me!” This part of my resolution will be broken before I even pick up a fork.
I’m also going to try opening myself up to new people as much as possible over this next year, even if it’s something as small as starting a conversation with a stranger in line at Walmart. I’ve kept myself pretty closed off for a long time now, and it might be time to start making some cracks in those walls I’ve spent so much time building up. I consider myself to be an introvert, much happier to be curled up with a book and a blanket than in a room full of people. But that sure can get lonely sometimes. So if the opportunity presents itself to start a new friendship or to rekindle an old one, I’m going to take it. It doesn’t mean I’ll turn into a social butterfly with tons of people around me all the time. That’s something I’ll never be simply because it’s not in my personality. But if I can widen my circle by at least a couple people, well, that might not be so bad.
This resolution is going to be a challenge for me, for sure. I’m a creature of habit. I don’t just have a routine, I thrive on a routine and without one, I turn into a scatterbrained loon. Almost everything I do is part of a routine, all the way down to which shoe I put on first when I’m getting dressed (it’s the right one, just in case you were wondering) and what time I go pee during the day while I’m at work. My weekdays generally consist of getting up, going to work, going to the gym (ok, ok, this isn’t every weekday, only when I can’t come up with a good excuse not to go), going home, feeding the dog and cat, feeding myself, watching some TV, getting ready for work the next day, going to bed, and resting up for the cycle to start all over again when my alarm is screeching and I hit snooze four or five times, just like I do every morning. It’s a routine that I haven’t altered very much over the years, and while it works for me and allows me to function, it can get a little monotonous sometimes. I don’t usually deal all that well when a wrench is thrown in there unexpectedly, kind of like a robot that has Kool-Aid thrown onto its circuit board – lots of squealing and smoke as the components go into full meltdown. So, I’m going to work on being a little more flexible, a little less rigid, and a little more accepting of new and different things even if they might throw off my normal every day routine. The older I get, the more I’ve learned that change isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can have some pretty great consequences if you can just accept it and let it happen.
My second resolution is to listen to my heart more instead of always listening only to my head. I’m a thinker, an analyzer, a researcher, a planner. If a problem presents itself, my first reaction is to find the solution. To figure it out. To break it down piece by piece and analyze every little part of it until I have the answer. I look at it from every possible side until I have a clearer picture of what it is and how to conquer it. I’m not just a thinker, I’m an overthinker. The hamster inside my head rarely gets a break from running on that little wheel of his. There are some days when I’d love nothing more than to shoot that hamster with a tranquilizer dart. I also carry around a healthy dose of skepticism at all times, which I tend to apply to anything and everything, including most people. When someone does or says something – anything, really – my brain goes into overdrive trying to calculate his or her motives, figure out if he or she is being genuine, and detect even the slightest hint of deception. On the surface, it sounds like a serious case of paranoia, but I see it more as a mode of self-preservation. Trust is not something I hand out willy nilly. It most certainly has to be earned, but I realize that not trusting anyone creates an awful lot of isolation. So, I’m trying to find a healthy balance and that’s where listening to my heart comes in.
I have a strong gut instinct, the sixth sense that throws up red flags when something seems off, or sparks a little bit of hope when something seems right. My problem is that oftentimes I don’t listen to my gut, to my heart. My brain kicks in and starts doing its thing, analyzing and over-thinking every little detail and soon enough its whirring gets so loud that my instinct is drown out completely. Not listening to my gut has led me into heartache, disappointment, and frustration more than once. My heart is telling me, “Something isn’t right here, proceed with caution,” while my brain is saying, “I’ve done some quick calculations and it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong here.” I trick myself into believing what my brain says and dismiss completely what my heart says. On the other hand, I can’t think of a single time when I’ve just given in and followed that gut instinct and been let down. Not one. Maybe it’s because I hardly ever do it, so my frame of reference is a little skewed. I need to analyze this, to pick it apart and figure out what the solution is…See? There I go again. I can’t even write a simple blog without that damn hamster running amok.
In any case, that’s my goal, to find the in between and not to overthink everything. Not to think myself out of an opportunity, a chance, or an experience when my gut is telling me to just let go and give it a try. Like the first resolution, this one is definitely going to be a challenge and I have a feeling my skeptical brain won’t back off without a fight. But, I’m going to work on it and I’ll see how it goes. Come December 31, I might be just as frustrated and disappointed as I have been with past resolutions, but for whatever reason, this time my gut is telling me I won’t be. I think I’ll listen to it this time.