A New Me: New Year Editorial

Lucy Ke

Ever since I was little, I was always incredibly intrigued by the phrase, “New year, new me.” I had first heard it from my second grade teacher when my class was given the assignment of writing resolutions for the New Year. Since then, I’ve become very dedicated to figuring out what it meant. Curious, I asked my mother about it when I got home from school later that day. “Mommy,” I said, “what does ‘New year, new me,’ mean?” Smiling and chuckling a bit, she replied, “Well, you see, each January 1st, when the calendar year changes, people strive to become a better version of themselves in that new year, sweetie”. Little 7-year-old me did not understand what the word “strive” meant, so taking my mother’s answer and the fact that New Years was such a greatly celebrated holiday, I began to believe in some magical being who would go around on New Year’s Eve and change everyone into that “better version,” similar to the way Santa Claus would bring presents to little children on Christmas Eve or the way the Easter Bunny would hide chocolate eggs around homes for Easter. When the calendar finally struck December 31st, 7-year-old me curled up in my pink pajamas and matching bedsheets and pretended to fall asleep. When my parents came in to check on me, I was secretly wide awake, wishing on every star and exploding firework that the “New Year’s fairy” would change me into the prettiest princess, who would live in a huge castle the whole next year. I was devastated the next morning when that fantasy “new me” was nowhere to be found. This same hope in the New Year’s fairy was something I stuck to each year following. I wanted to be a mermaid. A superhero. A fairy. Anyone but my ordinary self. But year after year, I began to lose faith in the New Year’s fairy, thinking that she just skipped over me because I was not special enough. That, I believed, was why my desire of being happier was not coming true. This made me live rather sadly and with great disappointment, thinking I would never, ever be that “new me.” I would walk around with my head down and my face was unhappy and not smiling. That was, until one specific holiday season many years later.

It was the last period of high school classes before winter break, and my teacher handed out a little present to everyone in the room. Inside the gift bag I received was all sorts of holiday candies, stationary, and a notecard. I took out the notecard to read what was inside, expecting a generic holiday message. It was handwritten and read, “Have a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with happiness, good health, and everything that matters most in your heart.” I thought, “Everything that matters most? Who writes that? And…what even is that to me?

As I left the classroom and headed for the school bus, so eager and ready for the freedom of winter break, the giant bulletin board placed in the lobby of our school building caught my attention. I had not seen it before, and walked closer to it to see it better. Bubble letters embellished with bright glitter spelled out, “New year, new me”; the phrase that had consumed me for so many years. The phrase that had made me so upset. The lie. Underneath it, a question prompt was displayed. The words written in neat handwriting asked, “Who do you want to be this new year?” My mind answered the question for me. I wanted to be prettier. Popular. Everything that wasn’t what I was then. There was a little basket hanging underneath the question with slits of white paper. I reached into it and grabbed out a paper someone had put in. I read it in my head, and did not expect any of the words it held. The paper stated, “You do not have to change a thing about your appearance or who you are. Being the best version of yourself is loving yourself and living with kindness in each moment of the new year and beyond”. Confused, I grabbed another paper. The paper held the words: “I WILL be happy this year.”

That December 31st, I went to bed with a different view on the holiday of New Years. The echoes of “everything that matters most in your heart,” “do not have to change a thing,” “loving yourself,” and “will be happy” repeated in my head again and again, never stopping for a break. With each firework sounding, I was reminded of the numerous desires I had wished for all those many years ago. This time, I prayed that I would have the courage to make my dreams come true the next year. I realized that they would not come true with the snap of a finger- it would be up to me to work hard for them. Excitedly, I jumped out of bed and turned on the light in my room. I pulled out a blank sheet of paper and a pen. I wrote what I wanted to accomplish in the new year. I did not want to change myself completely, but I wanted to be a better person inside. I would still be the same me, but I would own a new mindset.

The next year, right before Christmas break, that same bulletin board in the lobby came back. This time I strolled over with my head held high and a joyful smile because of how much it had helped me. I took out a clean sheet of paper and wrote a message for whoever would read it next. On it I said, “‘New year, new me’ does not mean becoming some completely different character just because the number of the year changed. It means striving to pick up healthy habits in order to become a happier version of yourself. The change happens on the inside. While the new year can symbolize a fresh start, you can really begin anytime, as long as you find the urge and motivation to do so…” I wrote on and on based off of my childhood fantasies and experiences growing up with that mindset of always wishing to be someone else. I wrote that I ended up learning to be happy with who I was, and that was what made me a “new me.” I put my long, wordy note into the basket, and walked away with a gentle smile. After I got on the bus and looked out the window, I saw a girl who looked just like me the year before walk over to the board, with her head held rather low, and take out a note. She stood there for quite a while reading it, so I assumed it was my little letter. As the bus pulled away, I saw her fold it into her pocket, stand taller, and smile.