As the new year nears, it’s resolution time again

New Year is usually celebrated with fireworks like these in Abu Dhabi, but will progress on new year resolutions be as spectacular? Sammy Dallal / The National
New Year is usually celebrated with fireworks like these in Abu Dhabi, but will progress on new year resolutions be as spectacular? Sammy Dallal / The National

It is that time of year again. The New Year is creeping up slowly and one cannot help but reflect on the past year. Has it lived up to expectations? Did you stick to any of the resolutions you were so determined to make a year ago? Is your gym bag collecting dust in the corner? Are there piles of unread books on your bookshelf? Have your new hobbies gone by the wayside?

For me, it is crazy to think that it has been almost a year since I moved back to the UAE. Although I did not start to settle in properly until a few months back, it seems as if it was just this summer that I graduated and was faced with the dreadful reality that I had to pack up my life and leave the city that had been home to me for over a decade.

Although my time living in New York always required mini “breather” trips to get away from the madness, out of all the places I had lived growing up, I had never felt more myself than when I was roaming the streets of Manhattan, crossing the bridge to Brooklyn or going up to visit the Magellanic Penguins at the Bronx Zoo.

Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike once wrote, “the true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” That is exactly how I felt for a long time.

Even though I missed Abu Dhabi and the UAE growing up, constantly moving meant that while it was extremely easy for me to adapt to new surroundings, it was also extremely difficult for me to ever feel completely at home anywhere.

I got some real perspective over the summer when I took several trips back to New York and was repeatedly told how lucky I was to have moved to Abu Dhabi, how many native New Yorkers would have done anything to trade places with me.

So with that in mind, I made a decision to actively stop missing somewhere I had called home for so long and to do what I had always done best as a child — make a new one.

I think it is easy to get consumed by negativity and that is precisely why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. We get so exasperated with our “bad” habits or change just seems too hopeless, that we stop trying to overcome.

This is why I have decided that in the new year, I’d make an effort to always look on the bright side, to appreciate where I am in life and always be aware of my blessings.

This includes appreciating the fact that I get to be closer to family; that I get to indulge in Emirati traditions and food and practice my Arabic on a much more regular basis, that for the first time I am living in a Muslim country where trying to find places to pray during the day is not a mission and I can celebrate Ramadan with the entire country,

Even if a walking culture, easy access to art house theatres and pretentious Williamsburg-style coffee shops might not exist here yet, give it a few months and it can.

That is the best part about Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole, if you want something to happen, the city is very accepting of letting you contribute. The city is not yet oversaturated the way many big cities are, so there is so much room for new ideas and projects to grow.

Although I have to work a bit harder to find my niche here, it’s a challenge I’ve chosen to accept. In the new year, I want to work on exploring my city and country more fully. I want to eat at restaurants that range from high-end to tiny authentic home-cooked-style spots. I want to try to interact with people of different ethnicities, get to know the various communities that live side by side and learn about their Abu Dhabi experiences. I’d love to pick up some Urdu or Tagalog and take advantages of all the languages spoken in our country. Here’s to being hopeful and optimistic in the new year and working on being nicer to each other and to ourselves.

Fatima Al Shamsi is a globetrotting Emirati, foodie, film buff and football fanatic

Published: December 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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