Resolutions are old news. To still be offering sanctimonious platitudes in February must seem like madness. And yet, I can't resist. Plus, these are shiny new anti-resolutions, timed perfectly to coincide with a gradually dissolving determination to self-care, self-appreciate, self-prioritise. Enough hair has been swished to the twinkly tones of 'thank u, next'. A mass reversal of resolutions is long overdue.

  1. Escape self-absorption

This revelation actually came to me one afternoon in Cafe Nero, where I found my calm contemplation of the relative benefits of various sweet things interrupted by a sigh so powerful I nearly lost my balance, and feared for all the toasties desperately trying to cling to the plates beneath them. However, it was what followed the divine-power-channeling sigh that startled me. As I turned to the back of the queue to identify the culprit, a man separating us turned to the sigh's source, with a simple 'I'm not in a rush - would you like to go in front of me?' 

Yes, part of me wanted to toss myself into the arms of said man and insist he marry me , but most of me just wanted to berate myself: on this occasion it was someone else, but it could easily have been me. I'm always the sigher, and never the Samaritan in these scenarios. In fact, in a recent conversation among friends, it was even decided that my signature sound is a distinctive 'ugh!' Imagine that! To be known for one's 'Ugh!' Ugh! 

And it's almost pathological in Cambridge where the workload seems to transform us into a sassily self-absorbed collective. Time for lunch? Absolutely not! Time for dinner? Pah! I remember even advising a friend of this when she worried that her Cantabrian squeeze's replies were becoming less and less frequent. I even remember - to my shame - asking my own mother if SHE had five essays too after she put me on hold during a conversation. And that's the paradox of Cambridge: we seem to be hyperaware of any kind of neglect on a global scale and yet happy to consistently ignore the problems of those closest to us. On top of all that, we're then supposed to spend this new year prioritising ourselves more!

  1. Embrace insecurity

That's precisely why I'm starting to fall in love with insecurity as the perfect antidote to this cult of self-obsession. It may not be trendy as such, but there's something so endearingly kind about someone aware that they might be offending other people or making them uncomfortable and changing their behaviour accordingly. Yes, this probably seems like a ploy to justify my own winter-weather-induced wave of vulnerability, but I genuinely think there's something to it. 

I'm always the sigher, and never the Samaritan in these scenarios. In fact, in a recent conversation among friends, it was even decided that my signature sound is a distinctive 'ugh!' Imagine that! To be known for one's 'Ugh!' Ugh! 

We all have those friends who barely need the slightest nudge before they leap into the three essays they have on the go, or the five social events they need to juggle, or the seven separate suitors they're having to fend off! Interruptions aren't technically forbidden, but certainly unadvised. It's a performance, an entertaining show, and we're given the privilege of watching, but little more. We all know those types, too set in their script to genuinely connect with people. We can all be them too.

But that's why I'm growing so attached to the little part of me that looks to see if people seem bored of me, that reminds me to ask about them. It's the one little piece of string keeping me from tumbling into an abyss of theatrical self-pity. It's that sensitivity that allows real relationships to develop, rather than mere audiences for dramatic monologues. Yet as soon as the new year arrives, everyone feels compelled to snatch up their pitchforks and march ceremoniously against it. It's simple silliness.

  1. Embrace negativity

I'm aware this may be sounding dangerously close to a suggestion that we all stop loving ourselves. It's not. I just think we need to re-frame the discussion about self-love around what we can do for others. The idea of a self-interest / social-interest dichotomy is ridiculous anyway: someone with a social interest is just someone who's smart about recognising what will serve their self-interest in the long term. And for most of us that means making meaningful relationships, rather than abandoning friends in distress for a frothy bubble bath.


Mountain View

Going waste-free for a week: what I learnt

 While there are plenty of situations where someone else's negativity can become too much, this idea that we need to cut it out completely leads to the dangerous assumption that friends ought to be incessantly supportive cheerleading types, utterly uncritical and uncomplicated, and only welcome in our lives to make us feel better. But if you're going to have that kind of company, you may as well invest in a nodding dog instead. It would amount to the same degree of unconditional approval, and dogs just make everything better. You could even buy the Queen one! Imagine that: the Queen nodding at your every move! What a hoot! The point is: negativity has become a grounds for dismissing people from our lives, where it ought to be an opportunity to help those closest to us.  

I do worry that this might all sound like an elaborately public plea for general reassurance about my own character. Or that it might seem to suggest everyone simply find themselves someone particular dishy and become their personal slave in the name of happiness. But that's precisely my point: to some extent I'm glad I'm still worrying. I think the world might be a better place if people worried more. 

That isn't to say that we should all become nervous wrecks. We simply need to reframe our discussions of self-love around our love of others, shifting the focus from what others ought to do for us to what we ought to do for them. It's equally often becoming the happiest healthiest possible version of yourself that actually best serves other people's interests, that will then serve your own in turn. Yes, it's genuinely wonderful how keen people in Cambridge seem to be to help a wider global community, but it should be equally important to remember our own little circles of neglected friends.

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