Living With Anxiety Makes Making New Year’s Resolutions Difficult

The new year is coming up, faster than I thought possible. It feels like I’m constantly seeing things on social media about other people’s New Year’s resolutions, things you can try to work on, etc.

And it’s overwhelming because I can’t do those resolutions.

I’ve lived most of my life with an anxiety disorder. While it’s certainly under much better control than it used to be (thank you medication and therapy), my anxiety is not completely gone from my life.

I was never someone who felt the need to make New Year’s resolutions. For many years, it was simply because I was just trudging through each day. It was enough for me that I did that, and to try and think of something I could spend a whole year working on was wildly ambitious. I just didn’t feel all that dedicated to making half-hearted promises to myself that I knew would be forgotten and ignored quickly – as most resolutions are.

But more importantly, my anxiety will go into hyperdrive if I try to make a resolution of any kind.

Let’s be real: resolutions aren’t really promises to do better at something or whatever. They’re goals, simple as that. They’re something you want to look back on come the next New Year’s Eve and say “This year, I accomplished XYZ.”

I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t do “goals.” I can do to-do lists, small things, in a step-by-step manner. But I can’t do long-term plans.

I can’t do long-term plans because if I don’t get to X point by Y time, as I expected to when thinking up the plan, I spiral.

It’s happened before. I expected that by junior year of college, I’d be living with my boyfriend after temporarily moving back home and I’d be on track to graduate because I’d be doing well in the only major I had ever expected to be in. Then life turned on me and here I am, a senior in college with a new major and still living at home.

That’s not to say either of those things are bad – in fact, I love my new major (and am waaay better at it than my old one) and living at home has been good for me. It’s helped me get my feet under me a bit again.

But it wasn’t where I had thought I would end up.

I’m a senior in college who is going to graduate late, still lives at home, and is stuck in yet another part-time job that makes me crazy and doesn’t give me nearly enough income to move back out. And every so often, I feel depressed and upset over the fact that I’m not where I had planned to be by this time.

Where I thought I would be at this time.

Setting goals for myself just leads to a negative mental outcome.

If I don’t seem to be making progress in achieving a goal, I will feel like I am failing at whatever it is I am trying to attain for myself.

If I don’t reach that goal, I’ll beat myself up for it. I end up in a spiral of negativity that ultimately makes me wish I had never thought of where I could be by X time.

Part of it is also what these resolutions focus on.

Most resolutions are things related to building your confidence or learning to love yourself. It’s really, really hard to make promises to yourself like those when you’re low in both areas, like me.

There’s no guarantee that actively working on in the span of a year will make any difference because working on yourself like that doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort, and a lot of help.

I don’t want to set goals like that for myself and constantly worry about achieving them instead of living in the moment. Instead of just living for myself now, which is something I’m already trying to work on doing.

You never know what the year is going to throw at you, or what obstacles you’ll have to overcome.

When it comes to my anxiety, obstacles often lead to mental setbacks. It’s inevitable for me, and I have had to learn to accept that I won’t always move forward. That it’s okay to sometimes slide back, because you learn from these experiences and how to grow from them. How to come back from them, even if it’s just to a general state of equilibrium rather than a more positive state.

So no, I won’t be making any resolutions this year.

Just a promise to myself to take life one day at a time and not get ahead of myself when opportunities arise. Just because something good happens, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to lead to another good moment.

Sure, that sounds pessimistic. But I view it as being realistic, so that when something less-than-good happens, I won’t be brought as low by the outcomes. It’s self-preservation, in a way.

It’s a reminder to not get ahead of myself, something I’m learning to do the hard way.

So here’s to taking on the new year, one day at a time.


*Originally posted on Odyssey

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