2 days into the first month of 2019, I had landed in cold, bitter London when 24 hours ago I was sipping coffee in Brooklyn, New York. By the time the airport taxi took me home, I had swiftly developed a flu. The next day–my first day back at work–I got sent home by my boss and spent the whole weekend in bed aching and shivering. Then, 10 days into the first month of 2019, I got mugged on the streets of London, in which a hooded man on a bike snatched my phone from my hands whilst I was walking home after work. These events built up to a pretty frustrating start of a new year. I couldn’t not think, “Wow, this year is going to great so far”, but admittedly, I know it also makes me seem whiny and melodramatic.
Although, on the contrary, I’m talking about my ‘struggles’ not because I am venting, but because I want to dispel the myth that the first month of a whole year is supposed to be amazing, or detoxing, or soul-cleansing, or A New Start. In fact, January can be one of the harder periods throughout the year. I was on a holiday high from the joys of time off work, having a fantastic vacation and indulging in all the comfort foods my body has craved. I created so much healthy mental headspace from not being stressed at work or running to-do lists in my head. But after the holiday ended, the luxuries of waking up late and leisurely lounging are suddenly cut off and I found myself back at my work desk as if the holiday never even happened. Anxiety levels were high (I went back to biting my nails) and I felt so unmotivated and overwhelmed. Any kind of Life Misfortune I encountered seemed bigger and harder to deal with than it actually was. Besides dealing with jet lag, I was also dealing with ‘post-travel lag’. If jet lag is because a plane moves too fast that you leave your body rhythm behind, then ‘post-travel lag’ is when you get thrown back into your normal routine too quickly and your mind is simply struggling to catch up. And like jet lag, post-travel lag takes time to be readjusted with rest and comfort. And maybe comfort eating.
So, a month into 2019, and I have learnt that it is okay to not have an amazing Great New Start to the New Year. The concept that a new year helps you start anew may work for many, but it can also be unhealthy. Self-improvement can happen anytime, and a change in calendar year shouldn’t pressure you into feeling like you need to improve yourself. Sometimes, it’s about gently reshuffling perspective to not be too hard on yourself, and remind yourself that you are enough. If anything, you’ve made it this far. And trust me, after all the fiasco of January, I think February is going to be the new January.