In just a matter of days the year 2021 will be upon us. While many are looking forward to a brand New Year, we cannot help but regard it as the year when the past will not only be an integral part of the present, but also serve as a visceral reminder of how the unexpected can derail well-planned resolutions, produce stress and halt economic progress—-thanks to Covid-19 that unrelenting life taker, and unassailable game changer. There has always been something very enticing about using the New Year as a change marker, for it brings in its wake the opportunity for a fresh start, and a chance to commit to making essential improvements in one’s life. While a new year may embolden people to think long term, given the uncertainty and restrictions brought about by the pandemic, it is more difficult to make long-term resolutions in 2021.
Not only has the pandemic given us all a different experience of time, it has caused the future to become less predictable, which translated means that the setting of long term goals is much more difficult. How can the ideal self be conceptualized without knowing what that self will be experiencing?
Commencing from the third month of 2020, humans were left bereft of choices, making the future somewhat unsettlingly unknowable. So what about the resolutions? New Year resolutions are examples of the ubiquitous human yearning to have some control over what lies ahead. Not knowing what is to come means we don’t know what we need to know to keep ourselves safe. In order to circumvent this disturbing powerlessness, we do things to take control, such as resolving to diet and exercise, to quit smoking and to start saving. It is not of great concern whether or not we maintain our determination and make good on these promises. Committing to them, at least for a moment, transmits a feeling of more control over the uncertain days to come.
New Year 2021 is unique in its own way and will forever remain etched in the minds of many the world over, and although 2021 may feel like a fresh start, it will not rid us of the Covid-19 pandemic or its new variant.
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is to assume for even a nano of a second, that 2021, by default will be better than 2020. Do not forget that Covid came around with a great sound, and to this day continues to disrupt our school, work and play.
So as the year comes to an end, this message I send—A Happy New Year and may we all be spared any further fear.