“New year, new me!”—or so the saying goes. Every year, I make a promise to myself to be, somehow, a better human being, whether it’s through something like expanding my vocabulary or determining to say hello to every dog-walker I see. New Year’s resolutions are my excuses to try out hot yoga, change up my take-out order, or buy new kicks. It’s an exciting and promising time.
Naturally, within these personalized goals, I’ve often found myself idolizing others who embody the “perfect persona” I wanted to achieve.
These idols weren’t just celebrities or Insta-worthy bloggers, but also activists and friends who captured my attention. I’d rush out to buy books that they’ve read and posted about, but then the books would just get dusty on my nightstand. Places they have gone to and raved about, I’d rush to see myself—but then I wouldn’t feel as accomplished as I thought I would.
I’ve realized it’s a weird impression and trick to think that buying a book and not reading it, or complacently traveling to a destination, is going to offer some profound outcome.
What’s the remedy for such false hope? For me, it was actively choosing to avoid the assumption that by following another person’s footsteps, I’d have it all and have it be just as great.
This blind adoration ends up emptying my wallet or wasting time I have could have spent cultivating my own garden. To avoid limiting myself to my own comfort zone, I had to foster a new approach to my everyday life.
I spent less time on social media, knowing that it was the one place where I spent most of my time sulking and comparing myself to others.
I hated myself for it, so I cut down the amount of times I looked at my phone and casually stalked other people’s feeds (you know we all do it). I even went on a mass unfollowing spree of accounts I followed on a whim but had no need to keep track of anymore.
For the idols I see in my day-to-day life—friends, or that perfect angel who’s so good at math—I wrote a list of why I admired them so adamantly. Then I wrote a second list of the ways I have shown such qualities myself. And if I haven’t shown them yet, I thought of ways that I could foster those things without replicating how person A or B did it. This way, I can focus on myself and still have my own sense of control.
Growing up as a timid artist, I found that imitating other people’s styles gave me a medium to constantly create; however, it became a crutch I didn’t need anymore. And eventually, imitation was a huge creative block because it made me feel like I was bound to a certain construct or style I couldn’t stray from. It was a destructive comfort zone.
Likewise, idolizing other people was a great way to start to see who I resonated with, but not to the point where I let their lifestyles mold my own.
By limiting the amount of energy I normally put toward fantasizing about a personal idol’s life, I’ve gotten more ideas about the kind of person I want to be. I’ve created a lot more artwork and have taken on new opportunities. It’s liberating and downright awesome.
Be inspired. Have someone to look up to. But remember that your life changes shape through your unique ambition to take on the world. Best of luck in all of your New Year’s resolutions!