This is my first post of the New Year, 2014! Clearly, I haven’t been working on this blog as much as I would have liked to. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing, though. In fact, that’s ALL I’ve been doing! (Can I get witness from the grad student section on stage right?!) All of the writing that I did during my semester has made me a better writer- at least in the academic world. I regret nothing! Except not writing pieces for this blog.
I could have posted some of my essays and reviews that I completed for my classes, but remember that goal I had about “making the social sciences more social”? Well, if I’m to be true to that, I would need to rewrite those works for a more general audience. Not to say that I would seek to dumb it down, but it is important that I keep things thoughtful, informative, conversational and accessible. So, I just decided that, for now, I would start with this fresh post.
Throughout the year, I came up with lots of nifty topics that I could use the blog to discuss or work through, but I didn’t really have a plan for this post. Have you ever heard the saying that ‘whatever you do on New Year’s Eve/ Day is what you will be doing for the rest of the year’? Well, I believe in this statement. Not because I am a strange anthropologist that is guided by superstition (‘cuz that would be weird), but because those sayings and idioms do capture a social truth and expectation of sorts. We often associate the new year as a time of renewal, a clean slate, to do everything and anything better than we did before. Technically, there are loads of opportunities throughout the year that we could easily attribute those same thoughts, but NEW YEAR’S is the big one! It’s almost like the rest of those other opportunities serve more as checkpoints or reset buttons on whatever it is we would like to accomplish.
For me, after a long, hard, stressful semester, the New Year feels fresh. Throughout the year, work and school, really cause me to withdraw and neglect other aspects of my life like health, friends, travel, personal development, laundry. This year, I didn’t even finish my last assignment until mid day on December 23rd. I was exhausted, depressed about not being with my mom and dog, and I was living in a disaster! Coffee cups cluttered my computer desk, stacks of papers, articles, notebooks laid at my feet, a pile of mail collected in my mailbox, and yet, I still struggled to mail out holiday cards, and shop online to send home gifts. I’m still slightly embarrassed that my sister had to go pick up her gift from Best Buy, but grateful that they had that whole ‘site to store’ service.
In the last three days of my academic madness, I actually went on a juice fast. This juice fast was provided by Jus by Julie and probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. I’m thinking that it may become a tradition! I worried that I would be hungry and sluggish, but I wasn’t. The pre-made juices made it easy to have “meals”. I just added water, green tea, and once a day I had coffee. As I worked on limited sleep, I was clear headed, not weighed down by greasy take out student staples of pizza and Chinese take out. I actually felt great. So, when I turned in my last assignment, I danced, napped and felt energetic. Following my end of the year juice cleanse, I decided to extend this cleanse and finally organize my closets, file my papers and research, get my workspace back, take back the life that academia had stolen from me!
It took some work and dedication to get it done, but this was my way of embracing the new year. I spent this day acting purposefully. By 3pm today, I had cooked meals instead of eating out, planned and put a deposit down on a trip to Europe, researched field school locations, ran a solid 5k, connected with friends, and now posting on my blog.
While this post may not be readily understood as anthropological, it very much is. Anthropology, culture and meaning happens in the tasks that we take on every day, the traditions we uphold, the ways in which our bodies respond to a variety of stimuli. Many of the things that we do every day have become so habitual that we confuse the culture for nature. What I am hoping is that I can learn to maintain this level of balance regularly. Naturally, I expect outside influences and life’s curveballs to come at me, but my response to it will be in my commitment to myself- to be more purposeful. Today, I, like many others all over the world, set a precedent of which they hope to maintain and exceed throughout the year. The promise of a New Year is probably one of the biggest shared experiences in the world!
I look forward to sharing it with you! Happy New Year!