Do you remember Sunday night, when, as time ticked toward midnight, anything felt possible? I don’t, because I was asleep by 10 p.m., but it’s like that every New Year’s Eve.

You might be all dressed up, at the bar or a party, surrounded by friends or loved ones, and you feel this quiet optimism. You don’t want to give it a name, like “hope,” or tell anyone about it, because it’s kind of silly to be so idealistic. So you keep it to yourself, and a warmth in your belly builds; and by the time the countdown to a new day begins, you’re brimming with this potential energy that makes your skin tingle and the hair on the back of your neck prick up.

And for those 10 seconds you think, “Huh, maybe this really will be my year. Maybe this year I will get that big job or promotion. Maybe I’ll meet somebody and fall in love. Maybe I’ll take a chance on something. Maybe things really will be better in the new year.”

When the ball drops, the clock strikes midnight, and you shout “Happy New Year!” a part of you really believes it.

It’s been a couple of days and I wonder how many of us are still holding on to that feeling. Do you still feel as though somehow, some way, things will be different?

Hopefully, we’re still holding on to our resolutions even if that feeling has dissipated. Many will be attempting to exercise more and eat more healthfully. Some might be trying to quit a bad habit such as smoking or spending frivolously. A lot of people resolve to spend more time with family and less time on their phones.


I always start out with something really lofty and ambitious, such as reading a book a week or eliminating added sugar from my diet. Inevitably, at some point in the year, I fail. I turn on Netflix and ignore the novel on my nightstand. I make a beeline for the Ben & Jerry’s after a long week at work. It is my nature to cave.

Sometimes I think I should be a little more realistic in setting these resolutions. Maybe I should resolve to start pushing my cuticles back on fingernails when I get out of the shower so my hands stop looking like those of a 12-year-old boy. Perhaps I should vow to eat all of the salmon burgers that have somehow accumulated in my freezer; or at the very least, when I’m circling the freezer section of the grocery store, I should resolve to remember that I already have salmon burgers at home and I shouldn’t purchase anymore. Those sound like resolutions I could definitely, maybe, follow through with.

I can’t remember the last time I made it through an entire year carrying that feeling of optimism or making good on my promises to myself all the way through. In fact, instead of feeling as though it could be my year, I spent a lot of 2017 doubting myself. I doubted my talents as a writer and my future as a journalist, all because I wasn’t doing exactly what I thought I should be doing and I wasn’t exactly where I thought I should be. I questioned if I would ever achieve what I set out to when I graduated from college, or if I would hit that wall, like we often do with our goals and resolutions, and I just wouldn’t follow through.

But for all that self-doubt I felt, when I really think back on 2017, I did achieve what I set out to do. I started writing this column, which has been a creatively challenging but extremely fulfilling endeavor — and I think I’m a better writer for it. Additionally, if you’ve been a religious reader of this newspaper for the last month, you would have seen my byline a few more times than every other week in the local section. I moved from our copy desk to a new role as a reporter, and it’s such a great feeling to be doing the job that I said I wanted to do when I grew up.

So this year I still have a somewhat lofty resolution, and that is to be kinder to myself. If I don’t end up reading 52 books this year, and if I can’t completely eradicate sugar from my life, I will not view myself as weaker because of it. And I’ll try to hold on to that New Year’s optimism, because even though I probably won’t accomplish all that I want to in 2018, I’ll still have something to chase.

You never know what can happen in a year.

Emily Higginbotham, originally from Illinois, is a reporter at the Morning Sentinel. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmilyHigg. Or reach her by email: [email protected]

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