If 2015 was Cliff Huxtable, then 2016 is my Bill Cosby.
Before I could find a moment to create a vision board to fix my future life, this shiny new year wasted no time shoving a Shaquille O’Neal-sized foot up my ass -- and twisting it for good measure.
Since the leap year began about two weeks ago, I’ve struggled to keep my sanity in the midst of a series of unfortunate events that include (but aren’t limited to): losing my bread-and-butter freelance writing gig at the stroke of midnight; shelling out $300 several hours later to a towing company that sneakily hauled my vehicle away from my sister's apartment complex, taking my NYE buzz with it; and the ultimate show of the New Year’s attitude toward my entire life: discovering a mold infestation in my house that has already costed me dearly (and counting).
Under more pleasant circumstances, hotel-hopping my way through the first week of the year might’ve been a fun adventure, but not when I'm on the run from an insanely expensive, allergy-inducing house guest.
I only wake up to eat, curse my existence, engage in a little self-pity (OK, a lot) and stress over my quickly diminishing coins and lack of gainful employment.
Joblessness and a moldy house makes it a little difficult to digest all of the upbeat resolutions. Yes, I hear you, this is your year (again).
I've been inundated with positive updates from fellow entrepreneurs and glamorous travel plans from family and friends who are all obviously going to get what they want in 2016. It all only highlights the hole where my usual start-of-the-year giddy anticipation used to reside.
In short, sappy optimism be damned, because 2016 is on some serious bullsh*t.
When your new year starts out like a scaled-down version of the 10 biblical plagues, it feels impossible to not lose your sh*t. But take it from someone who’s spent the bulk of 2016 bemoaning a week’s worth of fails and getting drunk off home-brewed haterade: There are more effective ways to cope with being bombarded by stereotypical displays of new year-fueled optimism.
1. Don’t believe the social media hype.
This should be a standard rule of practice for social media engagement, but it’s especially pertinent at the start of a new year. If you obsess over every single positive tweet, Instagram post or Facebook status, it won’t be long before you’re convinced a thick mist of goal-achieving repellent is blocking you from success.
Since you can’t mute all those peppy #NewYearNewYou hashtags, put the pause on social media immersion so the glare from everyone else’s shine doesn’t obscure the path to your future wins. And, frankly, annoy the sh*t out of you.
2. Don’t panic -- we’re only a week in.
“But it’s barely the New Year. You’re OK,” reads a text from my mother after I wrote her freaking out over this year’s calamities.
Such a simple dose of get-yourself-together realness couldn’t have come at a better time. While I was knee-deep in the bowels of distress, I had totally overlooked the fact that 2016 is a newborn baby (a cranky, colicky one, but still), and there are an entire 51 weeks plus an extra day remaining in which wonderful things can and will happen.
3. Realize that progress isn’t a race
So what if my only brush with productivity in the New Year happened when I whizzed through four seasons of “Cooking Dash”? While I was fully engulfed in whipping up and serving virtual meals on my smartphone, it felt like everyone else was out there #winning.
But just as you and I both know those coins don’t count for sh*t in real life, the strides someone else makes won’t add to or detract from your own. Work at a pace that suits you and keep in mind that the goals you set have everything to do with personal fulfillment. Conjuring up imaginary competition only puts you that much further from an achievement.
4. Make peace with your current sh*tty existence, but don’t it let pollute everything else.
OK, fine -- the first week of 2016 has gone on record as the suckiest beginning to the planet’s annual voyage around the sun, so naturally I dug up a pair of misery-vision goggles to draw attention to every shortcoming in my life. I mean, how else am I supposed to feed the insatiable appetite of hopelessness? *groans*
Think about it, though: What if Earth took a pensive look at the tornadoes, snow storms, flooding, death, Donald Trump’s first campaign ad and all the other terrible sh*t we experienced in this first week of the new year and decided to call it quits?
Basically, we’d all be fragments of intergalactic trash.
5. Eff that line about the start of your new year dictating the months to come.
Regardless of what you were doing when the clock struck midnight and unleashed this dreaded New Year upon us, there’s no reason to surrender and let 2016 have its way with your life.
It’s up to you to create your own happiness, which doesn’t have to mean succumbing to blind optimism. Instead, realize that creating a game plan is so much more empowering than wallowing.
If you still sense the Ghost of Christmas Immediate Past attempting to show you where the hell you f*cked up before you tossed last year’s calendar, tell that finger-wagging spirit to take his karmic babble and shove it. Cross that horrible first week off the calendar with glee.
Finally, take comfort in the fact that if you survived such an unpleasant entry into 2016, the rest of the year should be like taking candy from a 366-day-old baby.