New Year’s Revolution

Lose weight. Stop smoking. Spend less. Read more.

The resolutions have been thrown around like paper lanterns, lit in anticipation, blazing through the first few weeks and drenched and useless with the first hard rain. They’re fragile, fickle ideas, changes that are made on a whim, often with little support and commonly aimed at personal betterment through superficial means.

God knows, I’ve made a few myself. “Stop eating so much junk food” has been my mantra every January 1st for the past several years, a mantra that lasts just longer than the snow during the month’s first melt. I’ve tried to eschew simple things – no more soda, no more senseless spending – but it never lasts. They’re perfect for others. Just not for me.

The simple reason: I’ve always felt I have no reason to change. Why make a drastic change if little is to come? Why go through the trouble of a resolution. Life is comfortable. My soda habit doesn’t hurt anyone. Let it be. I’ve always made and broken resolutions because I’ve never taken much stock in them. It’s part laziness, part kinetic motion. I’ve got a habit, why stop the forward energy when it’s so much easier to keep going?

Still, I want to change. I know, like everyone, that I’m flawed. So why not up the ante? Why not attempt something that will have ramifications throughout both my life and the lives of others.

My resolution for 2008: stop being a pessimist, and stop being critical to a fault. Be a better person, not a bitter person.

Let’s get personal for a second. When I’m at work, I’m busy and sometimes worn out. When I’m at home, I’m tired and stretched to a limit I’m still not used to. Both are completely manageable if I prioritize my time, but both instead cause me consternation. Curmudgeondom is just over the horizon, and I’m speeding toward it with an ETA 20 years too early.

Part of my job is to proof advertising and marketing communication pieces, which means not only correcting the spelling but also correcting the context and clarity. I pour over pieces as if I was a first-time viewer, searching for anything that might seem offensive, stupid or over-the top. Criticism is what fuels my fire, what drives me to openly mock and correct the Argus Leader, or to instantly dismiss an aspect of pop culture.

Psychologically, some might say it’s a defense mechanism, a barrier of righteousness built up through years of unpopularity, a relic from middle school. Sometimes it can be sarcastic and funny, other times it turns out to be just plain mean. And I hate to see myself when it gets that far.

It’s part of my persona, the sarcastic, bitter, old-man-before-his-time Corey. I’m tired of it, personally, and I vow to change it.

But can it be done? This isn’t a simple habit – this is an ingrained part of my personality, a basic building block of who I am. For better or for worse, I’ve developed an unwarranted edge that makes those in on the joke laugh along and those on the outside wary of my inherent kindness.

I’m a kind person, I’d say. I am a sucker for love, a soft-hearted guy that clings to relationships a little too hard and reminisces a little to easily. To see that a critical vein has managed to poison the entire circulation system is troubling. Like everyone, I yearn to be liked, to be accepted. And when a bitter attitude turns even the most basic comment into a misunderstanding, I know something needs to be done.

Forget smoking. Forget overeating or overspending or overworking. I’ve never been able to fix the external problems in my life, and I don’t think they’re as necessary in regards to worry. I’m undertaking an adventure, really – a quest to curb the attitude, to become a little duller when it comes to criticism, to become a likable person with real opinions and a knowledge to know when to stop.

If I can do it, I’ll be amazed. It won’t be a resolution. It will be a personal revolution.

Happy New Year, everyone.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 1st, 2008