(This is a long, long, long post. I could snip it shorter and conciser, but who cares.)
I have never been much of a New Year's person. My sister was always the one to go out and party with her friends, while I cuddled up at home and partied alone. Or with a book, as had lately been the case. This new year's eve will be no different. I am always more interested in the first of January than the last day of the year. Whatever could have been done in 2014 by me must already have been done, so the last night is a non-night. When a butterfly comes out of a cocoon, don't you wonder what shed debris remains of the larva? For me, New Year's is somewhat like that -- a butterfly of a new reality is taking shape, and me and the rest of my world, on the last of December, are the leftovers, the caterpillars holding on to our final puffs of breath as we are about to morph into something that is us but not quite. New Year's Eve is not being here at all. It's a waiting room, and we all know waiting rooms don't really exist outside our minds. So that's what I do, I wait by myself, a listless cow chewing and chewing on a yearful of memories as we usher in another life chapter.
^ I wrote this on the last morning of December. But I never got around to posting it, because it is so rough and raw and leads on to nothing in particular. I never completed it, because this new year's midnight whizzed past me wonderfully, with no lonely-memory-chewing at all. But it did lead on to one thing. My five secret resolutions that I posted vaguely about. Chewing on my memories the next morning, I stumbled across those that I'd rather suppress, bringing me to my first completed resolution of the new year:
3. Fix one mistake you've made in the past even if it means making a difficult decision, apologizing to someone, overcoming a fear or losing something or someone you'd rather not part with.
The vague-specific resolutions were vague for specific reasons. I don't think it's wise to share just what the mistake was, nor more importantly, should the mistake matter any more. (It almost doesn't, it's kind of silly in retrospect, which is what I was going for.) But I do want to share some small and big lessons learnt along the way and surprised musings on what fixing a mistake from a long-dead past entailed.
(I may write "you", but what I mean is me. The assumption that one experience gives me the right to preach life lessons to you is a fool's axiom. Oh wait...)
Making a difficult decision -
Last year, a professor told me that it seems like some aspect of my past weighs down on me, and I nodded a yes (when I should have replied, duh, that happens to everyone.) He told me a simple solution that I decided would be words to live by; it's the past, just forget it. But it wasn't even close to being profound, I realize now. Forgetting past mistakes is only natural. That's how you function, you get up every new morning and manage not to dissect all of yesterday till sundown, and then you wake up to another fine morning, full of possible regrets that you clamp down on, and so it goes on.
It is so much harder to remember the past. To remind yourself of it when you'd rather not. This week I decided to resurrect a monster of the past, face it and kill it. I am tempted here to draw a killing-cockroaches analogy. You know, just because they are hiding in their holes doesn't mean they are not there; spray a pesticide and they will all come out and make you run around a bit and scream and hit and smack at them, before they finally succumb. So even if your cockroach of a past gives you the heebie-jeebies now, wouldn't you rather be rid of it than let it lie hidden, just waiting to pop out unexpectedly in your behaviour and make professors give you unsolicited advice? Yea, I never know when to stop metaphorizing.
Apologizing to someone -
There are online guides on how to write apologies. For this resolution, I didn't refer to any guides. But later, last night, I made the mistake of reading one I'd rather not link to, because it turns out, I broke every rule on it: like, don't say how your actions affected you, don't give justifications, don't... my point is, I had only one strict rule: be sincere. Sounds simple enough, but give it a go and you will see, it is really not.
Overcoming a fear -
I started a personal blog intending to get rid of that routine where you meet someone for the first time and they keep learning new things about you and you wait with bated breath till along comes the revelation that brings your friendship a fatal ending. (Am I too critical of relationships? It is experience that has made me so.)
What is your greatest fear? Not the spiders-kind, spiders you can squish (oh my god, I hope you don't). What you can't get rid of is aspects of yourself. I cannot be wholly wrong in assuming that you, like me, live with a more or less constant fear of being ridiculed, of presenting yourself to the world as you are with brutal honesty and most importantly, the fear that goes with a reluctance to welcome scrutiny.
Spoken words are lost in the air. A letter is forever. Writing to someone, writing a blog, an email is essentially opening up to criticism, so that whether or not it reaches your ear, it's out there, happening. Where you have a reader, you have a critic. For a blog, it is an unspecified reader, you don't know whose eyes your words may reach and you can take comfort in your ignorance. That's not true of a letter.
One of my German teachers once taught us the etiquette for apologies in class, because you get to study the silliest, most obvious things when learning a foreign language and its foreign culture. Apologies should always be in person, she'd said, and I get how that is the most polite and fair thing to do. But I do believe a written apology takes guts. Because it's a piece of you stored in something concrete, physical, forever. (Ooh, horcrux... Sorry.)
Losing something or someone you'd rather not part with -
Fixing the past entails one change bigger than all others, changing your idea of you. Getting forgiven, getting rid of a fear, discovering that relief was right around the corner all this while, lifting a weight off your shoulders that you hadn't even realized was there, it's big and beautiful and scary. Scary, because it brings a drastic shift in perspective and the re-realization that memory is just one opinion, yours, it's not fixed in time and can, and should, be looked at with new eyes and new perspectives.
Remembering the past is reinventing it, I realized the other day, as something I've spent years mulling over suddenly went from being crucial to my self-image to completely inconsequential in a big twenty-two year long picture. The feeling of losing a fixed idea, parting with a conviction - about you, someone else, or an incident - is just something else. And no matter how unnecessarily profound or pretentious my post reads (I am aware it does, thank you,) don't roll your eyes at the possibility of that feeling. It's worth at least the littlest effort.
On a somewhat unrelated note,
when I was about to leave home to come to Hyderabad, I was incredibly nervous about the whole thing, and felt totally embarrassed to admit the fact to the world, being old enough already. My bestie gave me a piece of wise advice, that I'd soon build my own "support-system" of people, to turn the tough times into routines, perhaps. So far all I've managed to do is shape myself into a support system for me, but that also is an achievement. Oh, I've talked to people about my problems, I still do whine and blabber. But, these past few months have witnessed me continually telling myself that I would be okay. Reassuring myself that it's all fine. That's new.