New Year’s Eve is my least favorite holiday. While I do love sequins, booze, and aggressively fancy hats, I dislike crowds, clubs, dancing, being outside in party clothes for more than two minutes in December, staying up late, surge pricing, worrying about drunk drivers, and the pressure to have a good time doing something that other people think is cool. Even when I was a youth, I hated it! In my mid-twenties, I made peace with this, and have been totally fine just treating it like any other night. I try to ensure it’s a pleasant one (usually by ordering delicious takeout and watching Planet Earth), but I go into it with extremely low expectations.
But last year, I found a new NYE activity that made me actually like the holiday, and I now offer it up to anyone else who feels similarly meh about NYE (and/or is too young to get into a bar). On New Year’s Eve, just sit down and make a list of all your accomplishments and best moments from the past year. It will feel great. You will feel great.
Here’s how I came to this: When I started my new journal back in January 2016, I set up a page with the header “2016 Big Wins.” The plan was to add all of my, well...big wins...over the course of the year. I didn't know exactly what these wins would be, but I figured they'd be personal or professional, and that I'd just know when they happened. But “big” seemed like an awfully high bar, so I didn’t actually add to the list very often. Oops. But in late December, I decided that my final journal entry for 2016 would be a fresh page with all of my wins from the past 12 months, regardless of whether or not they had made my original “Big Wins” list. So on December 31, I sat down with all my journals from 2016 and started going through them, hunting for wins, big or small. (By the way, marking events in my diary entries with different symbols/colors all year turned out to be incredibly helpful for this task.)
As you may recall, 2016 was a garbage year (although calling it that honestly feels a bit unfair to garbage), so I didn’t expect to find much. But I ended up filling four pages with all of the good things that happened to me in 2016. Four pages! Of good things! In an objectively terrible year of my life! Some of the things were small (I got a Brooklyn library card!), some were major (I sold a book!), some were sort of silly (I finally got over my fear of using bleach to do laundry), and some were a little bit of everything (I found an awesome dentist!). But taken together, they made me feel happy, loved, proud, and hopeful...like, way more than I could have predicted when I sat down with my notebook that night.
Even if you don't have a journal, I bet it'll still be pretty easy for you to put together a list of all the fun and cool things that happened to you this year. Just take a stroll through your phone’s photo roll (and especially your screenshots album), your Venmo history, and your Google calendar. You could also look through the spot where you stick important papers and things you just don’t want to throw away to see if that sparks anything. I have no doubt once you get started, you’ll find way more than you expected to.
I know this all sounds kind of corny, but whatever! You think putting on a sparkly headband, going to a club, popping champagne, and kissing someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve while wearing a bunch of cheap Mardi Gras beads isn’t corny? You think Ryan Seacrest in Times Square isn’t corny??? NYE is corny as shit, my friends. You might as well lean into this and do something corny that doesn’t leave you with blisters, a hangover, and an $80 Uber receipt. Even if you do go out on NYE, you could still make your list before you start your night.
For me, making this list was a perfect way to spend New Year’s Eve, and I’m genuinely looking forward to doing it again this year. Most people don’t spend nearly enough time celebrating the crap out of themselves and the good things that happen to them. Why not do your part to remedy this?