New years always bring about change, no matter what you do. Nothing is ever the same, and life keeps moving and evolving just as you continue experiencing it for what it is. All of these thoughts have been going through my mind lately as I enter a transitional point in my own life. My mother is moving away. She starts her new job in Ottawa today, and this is the first time we will be living apart. Having grown up as an only child with one parent, this idea is hard for both of us to stomach, and so it is that I’ll be in constant motion between two cities, transitioning from one life into a fresh, new one to explore. Ottawa is a strange place. There are strange people, and a sense of disconnect from everything else going on. At the very least, it’s fundamentally different from the Montreal life I’m used to.
I’m not really sure what move to make next. Everything else seems to be floating around me and is spinning, and I don’t know what to hold on to. Are you changing, too? I thought we could have a little discussion about the transitions of January together.
If you’ve ever taken an interest in Modernism in literature, you might be familiar with the theory of the “onion narrative”. No? Let me explain it to you. Traditional narrative structure in fiction will follow a model similar to an apple. You start from the outside and work towards a core, a definite resolution or ending to the story. This was especially popular amongst Victorian era novelists writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When the Modernist movement came about in the twentieth century, however, the explorations of the movement’s ideologies seeped, naturally, into the literature of the times. Not only was there experimental prose and language (shout out to Gertrude and Virginia!), but a new narrative structure came to be: the onion narrative. The concept of the onion narrative was that there was no core to work towards, just layers to be peeled back to shed new light on a main event in the plot of the story. The best example to give of this is Ford’s novel The Good Soldier, which is the story of John Dowell, who is recounting the romantic and malicious affair he and his wife had with another couple at a spa in Germany. As the novel progresses, events are revisited and a different conclusion is formed, as Dowell comes to realize something he hadn’t before. It’s more of a story of thought process than a story of chronology.
And I bring this up because I think that we do this in our own lives all the time. We are always dealing with onion narratives, peeling back new layers, revisiting old scenarios with a new perspective, resulting in us coming to a new conclusion. In my experiences, this idea and the concept of change intersect and go hand-in-hand, simultaneously. They help each other to map a certain pattern in life or in thought and show a progression of growth. Wouldn’t you agree? As we grow and change and mature, we have new perspectives, which leads us to think about things differently. And, in thinking about things differently, that alone causes us to change because we see things differently, and are left inspired and revelated (hopefully).
So, how can we better make sense of all of this as we try to navigate this fresh, new month in a brand new year? Let’s try to sort out the abstract.
- Organize. Ask yourself: what do you want to accomplish? What do you want to focus on? What areas of your life do you feel changing?
For myself, I can start off by saying that I want to grow out my bangs. Next, I want to focus on music and practice for at least an hour a day. And, if I want to be able to run a 5K in the summer, I better start training, right? You don’t need to freak yourself out with big goals and block yourself from achieving them. All it takes is a small action in the right direction, a simple way to get started, and you can progress forward smoothly to eventually get to where you want to be. As long as you’re doing something means progress. New Years resolutions exist for a reason (which is to get you started!).
2. Embrace these notions of change. Look to what it can offer you, which is so much.
By following through with the changes in front of you and letting yourself become subject to the natural way of these things, you’ll be surprised at how fulfilling of an experience it will be.
3. Think positively, always.
Is everything hectic right now, and you feel like too much is happening around you at once, kind of like how I described it in my own, shifting reality? Though it may feel out of control, it isn’t all bad. For me, I know that I’ll get to explore a new city and meet new people, maybe even make new friends in Ottawa. And if not, then at least I have a place to go to, where no one will know a thing about me. That’s a nice feeling to for me to have.
4. Avoid distractions, it’s good mental training! And it’s healthy!
If something is bogging you down and pulling your focus away from what you want to achieve, or even pulling your energies out of a compelling change you feel stirring inside of you (believe me, you will feel it!), get rid of it. Social media is a huge one for me; I find that when I finally have the chance to pick up my guitar, I usually end up scrolling through Facebook instead of practicing, and then I later get frustrated when I can’t remember a scale shape. Hmmm….
But this goes with people, too. Often times, we can feel trapped within a social circle or even a relationship in particular. People can be very hindering in so many ways. We could find ourselves worrying about how others will think of us if we do/say/wear/go to/etc. whatever it is. Put this into perspective for a moment. You want to achieve something, or you feel yourself growing into a new person. Maybe your thoughts change, but that’s all normal and healthy. People are supposed to change, it’s part of the natural order of things. Knowing that, isn’t it a little ridiculous to stunt your growth as a person to accommodate one person or a group of people? I think so.
In getting rid of these little pullbacks, you can focus on inner strength and goal accomplishment. It’s a very refreshing change to make.
5. Face your fears.
In a similar train of thought, don’t let your fears get in the way of your journeying forth. Conquering something that used to scare you is so empowering. This is something that I only recently discovered, as I sat openly crying in the middle of a restaurant across from my father after our lunch. For such a long time, I had been emotionally estranged from him, afraid of what he would think of me for showing emotional vulnerability. He had hurt me many times in the past, though I never really let on because of fear that it would make it easier for him to hurt me further. To finally allow all of that emotion to surface was scary, and a little embarrassing, but it eliminated a limit I had made for myself, and proved that it’s okay to do things that we’re scared of. Even if we don’t get the outcome we hope for, at least we experienced something for what it was, and that can only make us into a more capable and perceptive person.
6. Trust yourself, no matter what.
No one knows you as well as you know yourself. You know what you’re like, and there is plenty of strength to be drawn from that. Don’t be afraid to hold your own ground as you move into the future. You are able to judge what’s best for you, and you can plan accordingly, should it be running into an old ex, or having a parent move away, or starting a new phase in your life. You’ve got it, and you can make your next move. It’ll be the best one, and even when it isn’t, the future will still bring change to help fix any little mistakes.
Happy New Year, babes. Make it yours.