Is it just me?

Introductions out the way first. Yes, I know I am late. I know I should write more and yes I know you weren’t even expecting that but it’s good to not be predictable. Who says I don’t keep everyone on their toes? I hope you had a lovely Christmas too – that’s how late I am to the writing corner of the internet. Over the last ten years, I have laid my soul onto the cornerstone, allowing some insight into the way my brain works and often doesn’t work. I feel it appropriate having been part of a generation that often wondered if I was alone. Today, I write of an unpopular opinion. Or one that I thought when brainstorming was unpopular, you might agree or disagree – again it’s an opinion so hold your horses before spamming my comment feed.

I hate New Year’s Eve. At the age of nearly 27, I hate it with an absolute passion and not with the same hatred Jeremy Clarkson has towards Meghan Markle – or maybe I do but will write it with a tad more politeness and without a poorly positioned Game of Thrones reference.

Over the years, I’ve tried to explore where my hatred came from – was it the fact I was growing up with a legal drinking age of 18? Would I reach 18 and suddenly adore the event? New Year’s Eve was sold to me by the marketing campaigns to be the most amazing night of the year. A night that would act as a road map for the upcoming months of the forthcoming year. So, when I turned 18 and turned to my first NYE event my hopes of this powerful awakening turned to hatred, anxiety and a deep loathing, everyone was wrong. But was it just a bad one? A rotten grape. To test the theory, I tried to go out with friends but I would spend the night anxiously counting down the night away often sobbing uncontrollably in a toilet. When the nightclubs fed the anxiety and hatred I tried the dining out route. The same bleeding outcome. An ugly cry in a bathroom wishing I’d stayed home. House parties were worse, roaming someone else’s living room wishing I’d stayed put in mine with a bag of Cadbury nibbles. I wondered whether working in retail ruined my nights because unsurprisingly I would always be lumbered with the New Year’s Day shift. So, my first year after leaving retail I embarked on an NYE celebration knowing I didn’t have an alarm to set – the same bleeding outcome. So, what is it? Am I alone?

As someone who craves validation to prove me wrong or right in some cases – there is no surprise that I took to Google ‘New Year Anxiety’ on a quest to understand whether this was one of my weirdo moments or whether I’m onto something potentially never spoken of. I was relatively surprised to see so many articles had been published, all with similar angles or fears of the event. Over the last month, I have put feelers out wondering whether my hatred of the event was mirrored and whether my dirty unpopular opinion was more common than I first thought. I was surprised to learn that far more people shared my distaste for the event – often for similar reasons. A common reason was ‘it’s an overpriced night out, sold to be the best night of your light and is always a let-down’ or my favourite ‘why am I going to pay to get into somewhere I go in free of charge the night before?’ So, I wasn’t alone? Does it lessen these feelings? No.

Over the last two years, NYE has felt less of a big deal with the pandemic weighing so heavily on our lives. Last year, I had COVID on NYE which was almost the best excuse I could’ve had – lots were in my boat so the fear of missing out wasn’t at its peak. Year before, well everyone was locked up toasting the New Year in their house. I felt safer and more secure being at home – more in control which perhaps is why I find myself sobbing in a toilet when I do choose a night out for NYE. My anxiety this year stems from knowing this is the first NYE where I feel that I have to do something after two years of involuntary hibernation.

I have come to terms that my anxiety is deeply routed in OCD as opposed to social anxiety or generalised anxiety. My brain loves finding a pattern or inventing one to tell me I’ve done something wrong or something bad will happen by not following the same pattern that it found or invented at the moment. These patterns come from the past, often routed within trauma hurt and upset. Just turn to your Facebook, how many are reflecting on their year with a collage of pictures? These posts and times ask you and I to analyse our past, thinking about all the worst times; my brain doesn’t go straight to the good times because that’s not what the pattern calls for. My brain will ask ‘if I stay in tonight watching Bond will it mean I’ll have a bad year?’ it’ll also ask ‘if I go out, will this mean something bad will happen next year’. It will never ask ‘if you stay in, this might be the year that you meet Richard Hammond’ because God forbid my brain give me a positive to consider as opposed to the worst blinking case scenario.

It’s not just the reflecting that is challenging – but it is the looking to the future which holds uncertainty. A New Year is out of our control and we do not hold the power to tell our futures; whatever the horoscope might tell you there isn’t a scientific force playing our strings. We’re not in a Don’t Worry Darling simulation now folks. It feels unsafe, my brain turns to all the worst possibilities? If you’re anything like me, a change sends your anxiety skyrocketing in the pursuit of finding something resembling normal. The New Year, like it or not is the biggest and the most realistic reminder that the future is coming and change is more imminent than our brains want us to know of.  

I’m often asked, ‘what can you do to help yourself?’ The sad truth is, there isn’t a lot I can do. I can’t sleep through the next 48hrs and I definitely can’t ignore it. Whether we like it or not, we are bombarded with NYE and New Year sentiments. I have this year, tried to sit with the feelings I’m feeling as opposed to trying to ‘should’ them or even make them go away. With CBT we are taught to remain present and consider the now rather than what if, looking back or even trying to predict the future. I’ve got to listen to some of the NHS free CBT lessons I had earlier this year; even if some of it is easily forgotten in moments of panic.

And on that bombshell – I wish you a very Happy New Year and I hope you find some comfort in my feelings towards the event if like me you’re dreading it and counting down to midnight.

P.S I hope to write another article much quicker than I did prior to this addition.

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