You don't need a new year if you want to change your life

Taking charge of how you feel and what you want can happen at any time

Don't wait too long to make a change if you're unhappy. Unsplash
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The past few years have felt like a blur.

A lot of this is because of the pandemic beginning in 2020. Then in 2021 we had to adjust to life with it. And now in 2022, it feels as though we are finally starting to move on from it.

It seems natural to wonder what we should expect in the new year, although it’s obviously hard to predict. That is the thing about new years and the new beginnings they help to usher in — we can never be sure of what to expect.

I found 2022 to be a difficult year despite so much optimism for it at the start.

I began and ended the year in similar places: a friend’s January wedding in Dubai and another friend’s wedding in New York in late November. Both occasions were filled with moments of love, happiness and friendship. Just a simple reminder of how beautiful life can be.

A friend held her wedding at Magnolia at Madinat Jumeirah in January. Evelyn Lau / The National

But in spite of that, I also experienced some personal disappointments and heartache, feeling quite lost and even sad at times.

Not every day was bad, but some days just felt worse, to the point I started worrying about my declining mental health. One particularly tear-filled day led to friends surprising me with flowers and a special handwritten note. The message was that it was “time to start seeing how you can live for yourself”.

This felt like a much-needed wake-up call. After admitting to myself that I didn’t feel OK, the next step was finally doing something about it. It took a bit of soul searching to realise that if I wanted to feel better about things, I was the only one who could do it for myself.

Surprised by flowers from friends. Evelyn Lau  / The National

I’ve been spending the past few weeks trying to better get to know who I am — learning about what I like, discovering new hobbies and even getting back into old ones.

I've been going to the gym more, which is something I discovered I loved when I first moved to Abu Dhabi in 2014 but had been doing much less of. I've also got back into helping with animal rescue, something that fills up my heart.

On the other hand, I still can't eat out by myself at a restaurant because of the awkwardness I feel (but maybe one day). I'm also hoping to be OK to go to the cinema alone if there's something I really want to see.

Sometimes it has been lonely and uncomfortable but other times it feels liberating to do what I want, when I want. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but things that are worthwhile never seem to be.

I've also been trying to make more plans with friends and to be more sociable as well because it feels easy to forget some days how much love there is in friendship. Even if you feel lonely, it doesn't mean that you are alone.

People tend to follow the “new year, new me” mindset, but I don't think we should have to wait for another year to find growth and change, especially if we’re unhappy or feeling lost or even stuck.

As we’ve learnt from the past few years, nothing is guaranteed and we can never know what the coming year will bring us. While I’ll always have hope for the new year, I don’t cling to the idea that we need it to make our lives better when we can do that at any point when we’re ready.

Whether it's the first day of 2023 or a Sunday afternoon in October, it's never too early or late to show up for yourself.

Updated: December 30, 2022, 6:02 PM