I used to think the purpose of a New Year’s resolution was to make it but never follow through. Growing up, it seemed like adults enjoyed the act of making far more than doing. In fact, few adults actually even tried: the tradition was rooted in the supposed reflection, and the traction was enough. I naively believed everyone diligently reflected on past actions and created a meaningful, though evaporating, set of resolutions. As I’ve aged, I’ve found how much I had to learn.
For 2018, I have two resolutions: more patience and first draft privileges. Though intertwined, they are different.
Sometimes, I forget learning new things can be hard. I spend most of my hours in my wheelhouse, building on previous wins; daily learning is subtle and nuanced and I rarely have to try something completely new. I wish I could spend hours reading books, or trying new activities. But by 5pm, I’m exhausted. My brain desires unplugging. And so, I resolve to be more patient with myself when I don’t live up to my own standards.
We are in a time when many people are having to learn new skills. It’s hard. Men are learning their default is sexist because men are socialized as such. People of all colors are learning our default is racist, requiring us to question our starting points. We are learning how deep inequity flows and how our society punishes the less fortunate. We clamor for equality while learning the costs of our privileges.
Tough things to learn for any human.
I therefore resolve to assume first draft when engaging with others. If learning is hard, and we are in a time of great learning, it is important to remember that few people are trying to hurt, you or themselves. Though impact matters rather than intention, we must never forget the intention. When someone says something hurtful, I’ll assume the impact did not fit the intention and offer the person the opportunity to revise compassionately.
In an age of bombast and insular xenophobia, I resolve to remember the one thing linking me with every other human: existence. To be patient with those I meet, to assume they have good intentions, and to offer each person I meet the brilliant, extraordinary, gift of being human.
I’m not sure my behavior will change. I’m not sure my resolutions are about behavior. Instead, I want to be present. I want to know that my actions are not simply reactions and that through patience and empathy I can make sure my responses are intentional. I will still defend myself and my values, but I want to ensure that each action is deliberate, and that my actions are a reflection of how I see myself rather than as a reaction to others.
Either way, the world spins madly on.