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New Year’s resolutions you won’t keep

New year, new you! Except who are we actually kidding.

It is widely known that the best New Year’s resolutions are the ones that do not, in any way, force you to try to wholly reinvent yourself — instead they play up to the strengths (or, for that matter, pathetic weaknesses — what, you’re going to try to tell me you don’t have any of those? Quit lying to yourself, Donald. It’s nobody’s fault that your father didn’t hug you enough as a child, and trust me, a nuclear holocaust won’t make up for it) that you already have.

With that in mind, here are those resolutions you can go ahead and cross off the crumpled cocktail napkin you found in your coat pocket in the midst of your hangover on January 1st:

“Drink less”

Like clockwork, something like a dozen friends of mine go on social media to solemnly swear to “drink less” in the coming new year.

“Drink less” as opposed to whom, though? Dylan Thomas on his final bender?

The problem with “drink less” is its vagueness masquerading as piety. You want a round of applause for never getting to see the bottom of your fourth wine glass? a) Screw you and b) You’re only going to last for as long as you remember to keep the cable news switched off. Then one day you’re inevitably going to forget, and flip that shit on, and a talking blonde beehive will be on there praising Trump’s “Christian values,” and you are going to feel that you owe yourself that entire fourth wine glass, and you won’t even be that wrong.

Setting hard limits on your drinking works better. For example, “I will no longer drink to the point that Rand Paul’s existence makes a twisted kind of sense.” That, at least, is a specific goal and a specific marker for your brain to focus on as you raise Pint Number Whatever to your lips and suddenly think, “But do we *really* need stoplights to be regulated by the government?”

“No more relationships with toxic people”

On the surface, this is a smart decision. Dig deeper though and you realize that a much better resolution would be more like, “I’m going to figure out what draws me to toxic people and work on changing that part of myself.”

After all, you can’t control if other people are going to be assholes or not. You can only control your decision to spin wildly in a particular asshole’s orbit.

I have to add a caveat: There is one person who is in no way allowed to make any kinds of smart resolutions on toxicity — Jim Mattis, whom we need to stay exactly where he is for now, in a toxic relationship with a talking wig.

Please, Jim, for the sake of all, stay put. Stay put for as long as it takes.

“Quit Twitter”

If you’re reading this, you probably clicked on the link on Twitter. Pat yourself on the back for that one, bruh.

On a more serious note, there are people who can afford to quit Twitter and those who cannot. If you’re a Real Housewife who can’t prevent herself from subtweeting Chrissy Teigen after failing at that whole “drink less,” thing, sure, you can go ahead and have a timeout. If you are, to borrow from Matt Taibbi, an insane clown president who likes to goad other unhinged leaders into new nuclear tests via the social media platform, you needed a timeout years ago, but, you know, whatever, that horse durn left the barn.

If, on the other hand, you’re one of the thousands of unglamorous freelancers who depend on Twitter for making those social connections that enable you to work and, therefore, eat — then you should take pride in sticking it out and dealing with Pepe-lovers in your mentions. Leave unrealistic resolutions to one-percenters, and take comfort in the fact that when the nuclear holocaust comes we will be made equal again in our fiery deaths.

“Be more positive”

There is a group of people out there who are relentlessly positive. They’re so positive that they look at a child predator running for office and say things like, “Well, Mary’s husband, Joseph, was kind of a child predator too, so it can’t be that bad.” Or they look at their nation losing standing in the world and say things like, “Who needs pussy allies and their weird foreign ways anyway. They have things like centimeters and free healthcare, fuck them.” Or they take a look at someone like Vladimir Putin and say, “You know, that man sure knows how to run a regime. If only we could have something more like his system in place here. No, I’m sure that neither me nor anyone I know could ever be affected by repressions. Read a history book? Consider, say, the dark irony of Stalin’s Terror? Sorry, that’s for cucks and elitists.”

Those people constitute Trump’s base and if you want to be more like them, great. I can guarantee you it won’t last, though. For the simple reason that if you need to make an effort — i.e. a resolution — it already means that the cognitive dissonance is too much and it will only get worse as the extreme winter weather, i.e., the Chinese hoax, wears on.

For the rest of us, it’s important to know just what to be positive about in order to make any kind of resolution on positivity stick. “I’ll make an effort to notice cute dogs more. I will temper my helpless rage at the deteriorating state of the world with taking the time to take nice walks and play Zelda” — is just specific enough that it might work. “I will be more positive because the other option is just screaming into the void” is, on the other hand, certainly understandable but hardly productive. At least screaming into the void involves action.

In short, setting realistic goals is important in this season of post-holiday malaise and pre-nuclear winter hoarding. I wish you luck with it. Dibs on the canned peaches.

Photo: MT 23/Creative Commons

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Natalia Antonova

Natalia is a writer and journalist. She's the associate editor of openDemocracy Russia and the co-founder of the Anti-Nihilist Institute.