There’s a brilliant vignette in Adam Warren’s graphic novel Empowered in which the insecure hero’s boyfriend Thugboy lets us in on his theory of quantum hotness:
It’s a prime cut of comic book truth that’s funny, witty and recognisable.
Every New Year, I don’t so much get quantum hotness as quantum competence. Whether I feel like a success or not depends on what day of the week you enquire. It’s so freaking fragile. Success is the make-believe bubble you’re told to hold in drama class warm-ups. More often, it’s an unwrapped burrito spilling all over the shop.
31 December [insert year here]: I’m fired up with my list of “Go for it! You can do anything! Success quest ultrayear!” resolutions. I’m excited, confident and ready to roll. These resolutions weigh less for me on the healthy side (I’m a realist) and more on the art side. Put together this manuscript, resurrect this beloved project and so on.
Then suddenly New Year is over and it’s 5th January. Work, admin and household tasks elbow their way onto the agenda, tiredness creeps in and suddenly missing one item off the daily to-do list means you’ve failed the entire day.
From that point on, it’s a steady ledge-shuffle to avoid falling into Black Dog Mire. The whisper in your ear that “You never finish anything, do you?” If I’m unlucky, the dog’s mates Imposter Syndrome and Status Anxiety will bring a cheap bottle between them and swing in through the side door.
Of course I’m not alone in this. Many people don’t make resolutions at all so they avoid the feeling of failure. For me, that’s even worse. I need to know that if I failed, I failed while attempting something ambitious. If I have attempted nothing, other failures manifest to take the places of the resolutions.
If you too are feeling this seasonal hopelessness and guilt, I’m not going to send you some motivational bullshit (my feelings on the matter being clear). Instead, I send you a tip of the hat for making those resolutions, trying, failing, recalibrating and carrying on. You’re doing ok.