Dec 31, 2012

NYE…New Years Eve aka, Not Your Expectations

New Years Eve…the holiday we love to hate, and hate to love.

It’s interesting though that it gets that much attention, considering it is such a low-maintenance holiday. Like Thanksgiving or Fourth of July it requires no gift-giving or card buying. Most people don’t have a signature New Years Eve dish or cookie. The only effort this holiday requires is showing up and celebrating…yet we still complain?!

Although we don’t have a tangible obligation of something to; buy, bring, make or bake, there is an intangible stress that hovers around NYE.

I remember when I turned 21, I had some innate need to go out every Friday and Saturday night. I had waited my whole life to be “legal” and go to the bar/club, so I made it my duty to get dressed up and hit the town every weekend. I felt that if I staying in I was acting ungrateful for the fact that I now had nothing holding me back. I built up the big 2-1 in my head for so long, that I had to make the most of it.

At first, it wasn’t a problem. But, as that 21st year marched on, I found a sense of guilt come over me when I wanted to stay home and watch a romantic comedy in PJ’s on a Friday night. As my phone would flash and the Sex-In-City ring tone filled the air, I found it incredibly more difficult to tell my friends I wouldn’t be heading out that night. It was “Party-Guilt” and I allowed it to motivate me to get into the shower and get dressed to face another night out.

Thinking back to that year, there were a few nights when I did find myself, drink in hand, surrounded by friends, on the center of a dance floor somewhere, dancing like I’d never danced before—those nights I’m happy the “Party Guilt” got me out there. But that was a rare occasion.

For the most part, when I went against my gut instinct to lay-low and spend the night in, I found myself yawning at bar, stuck talking to some D-list, guy who thought HE was the most interesting person HE’D ever come across. While my friend (whom guilted me to come out) talked to his equally disappointing wingman.

Needless to say, those nights, did NOT make it into a facebook photo album. No great memories to stash away, just a filler-night—One of the many “other” bar nights in between all the great times.

And that is the same risk we run with New Years Eve. It could be a night to remember for all time, or it could be a night where you just wished you were home in PJ’s in front of the TV.

However, New Years Eve, has an extra component of stress. The involute decision of choosing the right way to ring in the New Year; A black-tie fancy party in the city, a low key shin-dig at a friends home, or a night in. Then we have to commit to a certain group of people to surround ourselves with; friends, family, all of New York City in Times Square. There is an endless list of options to commit to.

And that’s what I think the problem is…not the options but the commitment. We don’t stay committed to what we really want to do. We have “Party-Guilt” to do something wild and make this year like no other. Then once we’re half-way into the night, if we find ourselves not having fun, we are stuck. These are the plans we made, so we stick it out until midnight.

I remember a New Years Eve when I was in law school. I went out to dinner with family earlier in the night, a tradition we’ve had for many years. I remember, that year at dinner we had a fabulous time—a couple martinis, great food and laughing with my family. Sometimes it doesn’t get better than that. As the last plate was cleared from the table, I remember thinking that this great dinner was a foreshadowing of what was to come for the rest of the night. That this was just the beginning of a great New Years Eve.

As, I buttoned my jacket, kissed my parents goodbye, and left the restaurant, I had high hopes for the evening. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. The party was a dud. As the ball dropped and I counting backwards from 10, I wished that I was back my family.

But I didn’t leave. I decided on going to that party and I was committed. Mentally, I committed and would have felt bad leaving. Physically, it was New Years Eve and everyone I knew was drunk, so I was out of options for a ride home.

Nevertheless, as I sat trapped in the awful party, I made a promise to myself. I promised that if I ever found myself in a situation where the thought of watching reality TV on DVR, while snuggled in my PJ’s sounded more fun, than I would cut and run—No matter what the date!

So maybe that’s the key to a fabulous New Years Eve. Maybe we need to let go of all cliché “Supposed To’s.” Forget about the “Party-Guilt” and be honest with ourselves about what we think we want to do. But we have to remember that we’re human, and we’re fickle and we change our minds. Therefore, if we find ourselves in a situation, where we thought we’d have fun and it turns out a dud, it’s okay to cut and run. Plans are not set in concrete. Things come up, feelings permutate, and it’s okay to be flexible and change your mind.

You see, despite all the New Years Eve stress and pressure, the day is actually about personal reflection and hope. It’s a time to look back and pat yourself on the back for surviving the past year. To take a moment and appreciate all you endured. To cerebrate and hold strong to the lessons you learned in the past year. To congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come in a years time. To think about the things you want to fix in your life. This is where the hope comes in…

Despite your feelings about the past year, on this night, it is over. There is a hope. Hope for a new year, for better things to come. Hope for the opportunity to be a better person, live a better life. Hope to take new risks and open yourself up. Hope to make changes, take chances, and find adventure in the unknown of the 365 days that lay ahead of you.

No matter what kind of year you’ve had, on New Year’s Eve you can reflect and celebrate the past year, or you can hope and celebrate a new beginning.

The key is to not feed into the “Party Guilt.” Do what you WANT to do and if midstream it’s not what you thought it would be, cut and run to change the scenery. It’s not about where you physically are at midnight; it’s about where you are mentally. So get to a good place, do what will make you happy, and welcome the New Year with open arms.

The point of New Years Eve is to celebrate. Sift through the “Party Guilt” and forget about clichés. Do what you want and when, or if, it’s not fun anymore, do something else. There are no rules and no “supposed to’s.” But don’t lose the real meaning of the night—REFLECT, HOPE and CELEBRATE!

Happy New Year!


“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” Katherine Hepburn

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