Ox Fotheringham

Thank god we’ve made it through another January. It’s my least favorite month, with December and February following closely behind.

The snow. The long, dark months of cold. The post-holiday trauma from curt conversations with family. The influx of patrons overcrowding my local gym. And New Year’s resolutions.

This time of year (and even into February), advertisements and social media bombard us with messages that we have to do better than we did last year. Most resolution messaging also focuses on weight loss and health — which leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I believe diet and weight loss culture is toxic and fatphobic at its core.

Aside from the constant reminders to hate our bodies, the emphasis on New Year’s resolutions inherently demands that we reflect on the past 365 days and recall everything we didn’t accomplish. This can be beneficial for setting goals, but by proclaiming our resolutions based on our inadequacies, we set ourselves up for failure from the start.

All of this self-hate is projected through rapid-fire Facebook statuses and Instagram photos (I’m looking at you, before and after weight loss posts!). This culture of harmful self-improvement does not foster true growth. Instead, it diminishes our self-esteem.

A comedian and writer in Seattle, Washington, by the name of Max Dehlsohn inspired me to call out this self-loathing with his article, Things I Did Not Do in 2019. By naming their own mistakes and underperformance, Dehlsohn shows everyone else it’s okay to fail. And that helps eliminate the drive to compare yourself with everyone else.

I’m going to take Dehlsohn’s cue and reapproach New Year’s resolutions. First, I’m going to list the things I didn’t do in 2019. Then, I’m going to list the things I DID do. And then, I’ll lay out my realistic intentions (not goals) for 2020.

In 2019, I did not stop drinking. I did not stop ingesting nicotine. I did not eat vegetables every day, far fewer than that actually. I did not work out regularly. I did not get rostered for an A-Team game for my roller derby league.

I did not drink a lot of water. I did not save money, and I actually drained my bank account. I did not take a vacation to a new place.

I did, however, land a new job that I like. I made new friends. I continued to play roller derby despite working at least 50 hours every week. I moved in with my partner. I left a toxic work environment.

I started going to therapy regularly. I consistently wrote articles for The Real Mainstream about things that I care about. I found a lot of personal growth. I survived.

My intention for this year is to be vulnerable and share my thoughts, desires, and boundaries with my community and the people that I love. From that, I hope that I accomplish more things.

But it’s okay if I don’t.