I have felt surprisingly springy this year as we move into autumn. I’m not wholly sure why: the work side of life has been monstrously busy over the past month (I feel totally steamrollered most of the time, and I seem to have permanently lost the ability to shape words and deliver them in the order in which they need to appear in order to make sense), and the home side of things hasn’t exactly been as calm as a millpond.
2016 has been one of the busiest and most intense years of my life, and I’ve spent a great deal of it close to and in tears. It sounds so dramatic, but it’s true. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, but I’m pleased to be reaching the end of it, with just one more big hurdle left to overcome. That said, I approach the last quarter of 2016 with a spring in my step and feeling rather liberated. Having thought hard about it, I can attribute this to two things:
Firstly, cutting my hair short. One sentence; four words; five syllables. Transformational.
I regularly get bored with hairstyles, and over the past ten years, my hair has lengthened and shortened more times than a slinky going down an escalator. I’ve had everything from very short hair (at the time, this was a mistake. It was in my third year of university; I wasn’t feeling happy in myself and was stressing over finals/dissertation/life post-graduation. My ill-considered cotton-bud-esque haircut, intended to act as balm, instead made me feel incredibly vulnerable and made me feel like I possessed a pumpkin for a body and a pea for a head) and I’ve had mermaid hair (giving Zooey Deschanel a run for her money). However, having reached total body confidence in my mid (….late-mid) twenties, I felt it was time to try the short crop again. So I did it! And I love it! Aside from loving the cut, and feeling liberated from the maintenance of long locks, it feels GLORIOUS to be set apart from the hordes of young women who sport identical, waist-length, uncombed rats-nest tresses. Woo-hoo! My lighter head has made me feel altogether lighter and more free. There must be a scientific link connected to this, I’m sure.
I think the other reason I’m feeling springy is directly related to the decision to make new academic year’s resolutions rather than resolutions in January.
This is hardly an original initiative (I was talking to one of my best friends about this only on Sunday; her mother has been making new year’s resolutions in September for years. Another friend wrote an excellent blog post on this which you can read here), but it doesn’t seem to be widely adopted. Beats me why not – why do we put ourselves through the misery of making resolutions at a time when you’re feeling fat and grotty after the festive indulgence period, when it’s cold and dark outside, and when the new year is stretching ahead blankly of you in frankly what can only be described as an alarming manner…? You’re tired, unenthusiastic, still recovering from the family politics which inevitably arise over Christmas and you’re hungover. Not to mention probably still feeling a bit sick and full to the brim of a cocktail of Celebrations/Roses/Quality Street… You try to plan to better yourself over the coming months. And you fail. And you feel rubbish. And then top up that Celebrations/Roses/Quality Street cocktail. And you feel more rubbish still.
In light of this, and combined with the fact I missed making them in January, I have made a list of new academic year’s resolutions. Having plans, and having the energy to carry them out, has given me a boost to get to the end of the year and the momentum to carry through into 2017. I am excited!
Instead of feeling grotty when you try to implement change, instead revel in and take succour from the pure delight of the changing seasons. Celebrate the arrival of crackling fires; the promise of polo necks (mustard and plum are my preferred colours); thick, rich stews waiting to be mopped up with fresh crusty bread; the smell of bonfires and mulching leaves on the cold crisp air; glossy conkers studding muddy paths; the sheer joy of going blackberry picking and subsequently undertaking kitchen alchemy as you convert those dark, glistening berries into jams, crumbles, compotes and pies; the clouds of steam you create as you breathe out in the icy early morning; the technicolour foliage, and the bliss of fluffy socks and hot chocolate. Not to mention, of course, the fact that you are aiming for Christmas, rather than mourning its passing. What’s not to love?
Proverbial pearl: go and make your own list of 10 New Academic Year Resolutions, and prepare to spring into autumn.