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Opinion: Rise of the cringe – life hacks for 2016.

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So the sun has set on 2015. It’s a new year, new you, new start and new life, right?

So social media keeps telling me.

Because, y’know, we’re gonna take 2016 by the balls and swing it around till it gets, well, wondrously dizzy but a tad underwhelmed. We’re gonna smash 2016 like a bus-shelter in the ’90s. We’re gonna spin this shit like a light-up Pro-Yo (once again from the 90s, but quite oddly not as fun as watching old bricks bounce off a Plexiglass bus-stop). We’ll take ’16 for a whimsical joyride and nonchalantly kick it out the passenger door into the potholed street and leave it there, bruised and bewildered, and yet mildly respectful of what it got itself into when it crossed us, as we ride toward the dawn of 2017 in our 2003 Nissan Micra.

As much as I respect and admire everyone for taking this assertive outlook to the following twelve months, though, I can’t help but feel that it’s all a little bit relative. Do I have to feel the same way? Do I really? If enough people keep telling me how great their 2016 will be, do I have to take the year by storm too? Do I have to have luck wished for me?I often feel exhausted at the falsities of social life online, as if we’re all unknowingly, maybe even subliminally forcing each other to conform to feeling a certain way. Should I drape my fb profile pic in a net curtain with ‘2016FOREVER’? Should I start doing sexy gym selfies with #feelinstrong #20164evs ? I really don’t mind people having a ‘gentle feeling’ about the year ahead, but does it have to be a narrative arc? Is it not better to regard your life as one long timeline with interconnected beginnings and endings, judged in intertwining movements and emotional periods rather than separate 12-month-long chapters?

Every year we strangely want to come full circle, like The Oracle on that bench at the end of Matrix Revolutions, or Harrison Ford and his dad on their horses at the end of The Last Crusade. But why does 2016 in particular have to be special? As I recall, no-one had this bravado and chutzpah around new year 2015. Is it middle-of-the-decade syndrome? Is it the idea that with every passing year we are taking a step further from the cultural and historical baggage of the 20th century, and we’re nearing that readiness to embrace and accept the socially-aware, socially fragile 21st? Is the fog clearing from the hangover of the pound-a-pint noughties? Or am I just being really silly? [INSERT THOUGHTS HERE]

Maybe part of the reason I’m so underwhelmed by all this positivity is that I’m a miserable prick. I love getting excited at prospects I have in mind that can actually come to fruition, rather than dreaming away till the fulfillment of that dream passes you by. Funnily enough, life gets in the way sometimes. I need to see things slightly through to feel anything better than miserable. But then, maybe I’m a little too realist? I’m not one for grandiose gestures of optimism, although I am a supreme optimist at heart – I like my positivity served with pragmatism on the side, not dreams. Dreams are good, don’t get me wrong, but I save them for pudding rather than the main – all I really look forward to is the little mint and coffee at the end, because it makes me feel slightly sophisticated, like for one tiny moment I’m allowed to have European sensibilities, but I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could have them all of the time.

We all gotta have dreams though don’t we? #Yolo #ownit #goals. Goals. Every. One. Talks. About. Goals. Relationship goals. Career goals. Social goals. Materialistic goals. Lifestyle goals. And they come thick and fast this time of year along with resolutions and self-promises. Goals are the bane – no, meme – of the teenies, and Generation Yers in particular. Millennials seek to aim high and break the benchmark. They wanna live and own aspirations and dreams and goals rather than simply have them, apparently. But let me just say this: Why say any of it? Why tell the world your year will be amazing? Is it not a redundant statement when you know it’ll only be swiped upwards in half a second, because I just wanna see what Bey’s gonna wear to NYFW?

So, 2016. Yeah it’ll be ok. If you want it to be. Just don’t tell me its going to be amazing when it’s only just started. Life doesn’t care about the next 12 months. It doesn’t care about your expectations. And it really doesn’t care about your #goals – because they accompany life. I’m going to be really controversial and say that goals cannot be everything in your life. They may be a thread but they’re never the whole pattern. I’m not saying don’t aim high. DO aim high, please do. But likewise don’t be burdened with the pressure of trying to be great just because ‘life’s too short.’ It isn’t short. You can do a lot in life. It’s what you make of it that really matters. Sorry meduckies, but we ain’t livin’ in no storybook, neither are our lives beholdened to timelines or threads, digital or real. Take your time, embrace that time and do well. Not just in 2016. In life.

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