I don’t do new year’s resolutions. I do birthday resolutions: with a birthday in May, this seems to me the perfect moment to start a resolution. Most of the time it’s more logical to go for a resolution that works within the academic year instead of the calendar year and this gives me the whole summer to prepare for it. So in 2013 my resolution was to get asked to get on the board of my student association, in 2014 to serve on this board as well as I could and in 2015 to do an internship.
After a few years of these successful resolutions, I decided to do a more personal one in 2016. When I was younger I always had a creative side, but I had been ignoring that part of me for years now. In 2008 I was diagnosed with depression and my therapists advised me to not indulge in my creativity as they thought it would lead to unhealthy behaviour. I listened to them and stopped drawing, painting and writing creatively. The only thing I kept doing was non-fiction, which felt distant enough not to cause me any problems.
In 2016 I was doing really well and wanted to take a leap. Something inside of me longed for a more creative outlet and although I thought it might have been lost forever, at least I wanted to try if I could still do it. So I bought a beautiful green notebook (I wanted to really like it so I’d want to take it with me everywhere) and gave myself the rest of the year to fill it up. And the end of the year I would go through it and see if it was worth anything.
Starting to write again proved more difficult than I thought. Have stopped writing in the middle of my depression, I noticed that it was hard for me to write about anything else: of course this had been a huge thing in my life and I stumbled upon all kinds of unresolved feelings that needed this creative outlet. This meant writing was really hard and pretty soon I noticed my birthday was already coming up again and I had only written a few pages.
But just before my birthday, I went on a trip to Portugal. During this trip I opened up to a friend who wrote as well to talk about my insecurities on writing about these heavy subjects and the feeling that I might not be able to write about anything else anymore. With his support, I was able to write through this and immediately I was also able to write on other things as well: acknowledging I needed to write about depression helped me relax enough to write not only about that.
Back in Holland I still had two weeks to my birthday and for the first time in my life, I extended my resolution. During the course of the year, I wrote a lot. I kept writing non-fiction for several platforms, my notebook filled up with poetry and short pieces of prose and in November I even bought another notebook to work out the ideas for a novel. I got more confident in my writing and last week I even submitted some poetry to a writing contest (more on this in next week’s post). Last week I finally filled up my original green notebook from two years ago and even before I finished it I had already bought the next one. It took me a while, but I have truly found my creativity again and nothing will ever make me stop writing this time.
I have not decided on my resolution for next year. My birthday is in a month, but I don’t know if I need these challenges anymore. They were a way to give structure to my life, to set a goal, but the last two years have given me so much confidence that I don’t think I still need these resolutions.