Remember how excited everyone was last year at this time wearing their 2020 New Years’ glasses and making resolutions to travel more, make new friends, get promotions at work? Silly us! Well, since all that “2020 vision” was a bust, here’s to 2021; Our new beginning for our new beginning to the decade. With a new president-elect on its way, there’s just as much hope for better beginnings this year. While gyms might be closed in your state, making the annual “lose weight” resolution a bit more challenging, here are some New Year’s resolutions that everyone can do to better themselves and their communities.
Let’s work on educating ourselves; taking a break and relaxing with a new book maybe! Did you know that this year, with the uprise from the Black Lives Matter movement, “How to be an AntiRacist: was searched more than “How to be a Millionaire”? The book by Ibram X. Kendi was a huge hit in educating us about the perspectives of people of color. Racism is being recognized more than ever and, as a white girl, reading and talking to my friends of color about these issues is the first step to bettering society. If you were one of the hundreds of thousands of readers of this book this year, consider checking out “So you Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, “Conversations with RGB” by Jeffrey Rosen, or “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. All great reads of new and old perspectives to benefit today’s society. Audiobooks count too! However you prefer to get the information is up to you, but get the information and perspective, and share your findings with the world! These are great resources to add to your New Year resolutions.
Now motivation has been difficult this year. Ambition has been low and nerves and anxiety from the pandemic have been taking over our lives to the point that leaving the house is an event. I know my monthly Walmart grocery trips were the highlight of my every month this year until people took the streets. My home town in Rochester, New York was all over the news for our activism movements, even getting a lovely shoutout from Trump himself about our commotion. If you’re looking for a sign, here it is! Join the fuss and see what everyone is talking about at protests in 2021. The media has portrayed protests as dangerous and punishable, and while there’s some truth in some cities, these movements are things you need to witness for yourself. This year, make it a goal to participate (safely) whenever you can as there is safety in numbers! For first-timers, be more prepared than you are nervous. Wear and bring extra masks, posters, water bottles, goggles, and umbrellas, some cash, and whatever else you feel necessary or your community may need, and put them in a little body bag. I always wore a baby backpack on my chest for easy access when necessary and in case of emergency. And it never hurts to be overly-prepared for emergencies! I wrote my dad or roommate’s phone number on my arm with my local activism lawyer’s number before I went out every afternoon. It’s scary to think about the worst, but it good to be ready in case things get out of hand faster for me to get to the back of the group, which is also very acceptable! Once you’re there, you see the community as one and it’s an exhilarating feeling to be a part of something so important to mass amounts of people. Staying in the back is no embarrassment, it’s your presence that’s important; It helps protect everyone around you. Just be conscientious of your whereabouts, what you’re representing and chanting, and how you can improve the situation. Plus, The protests that I went to were very covid conscientious, where we were well spread out and everyone wore masks. So join the chaos this year! There’s safety in numbers and you can make a difference.
There’s more than one way to get involved in your community. See where you can volunteer! Becoming involved in your community has endless benefits besides helping people: you can meet so many new people with similar interests and goals, volunteering makes a great resume builder, and a reason to get dressed during a pandemic is always good. Google some ways to get involved in your community and do your part in improving our society. Just always make sure that the time you spend volunteering is going to a direct cause to get the most effect. Even an hour a week is helpful!
Journaling is another popular resolution, but it’s easier than you may think! Write about anything and do so in your own voice. What did you make for dinner tonight? Any current news that caught your eye? How did you improve yourself or others today? Write about anything new! We all enjoy our sense of humor to some extent, so practice writing in your own voice to crack yourself up. When you read it back a few weeks, months, or years later, you’ll be able to get a kick out of the way you thought at that moment. Write down your thought process and if you’re feeling extra ballsy, see where it can get published! Check out a local paper or see if any organizations that you’re affiliated with would be interested in publishing it for you. We’re all writers deep down, we just need to bring ourselves out onto paper.
This presidential election season had the most Gen-Z voters than ever, but we can only imagine how many were unable to participate after not registering in time, not having the time to go vote, or even not feeling confident enough to vote for one candidate versus another. Encourage new voters to use their voice! Sometimes it only takes offering to go vote with them, walking them through the process of registering, or talking out all the political controversies with them in an open and welcoming atmosphere. It’s our civic duty to vote just as much as helping each other use our voice to develop our communities. Voting will only be more effective with time, and even more crucial! In 2021, try to connect with new voters of all ages because all perspectives are important. Registering to vote only takes a few minutes, so get it off of your 2021 bucket list early and motivate one another.
Use social media as a tool this year to diversify your resources. There are endless platforms with educational accounts to learn from and share. Let’s “spread the wealth” of free educational opportunities and engage with accounts of your interests. Share current news on your stories or make your own to educate your followers. Social media is peaking more everyday and sharing your knowledge helps your virtual community stay up to date on current events, pop culture, and you! Your account activity represents you so put your best foot forward by reading, posting, sharing other accounts posts to help publicize them, and always fact check! I hate when I get excited from a new post and do my own research only to find out that I’ve fallen victim to fake news. So make the most out of social media this year. It’s a great opportunity to support small businesses, educate others, and engage with your community.
New Year’s resolutions are taboo, but can help us reach the serious change we hope to see in our future, just one year at a time! Now if only the decade started this year… 2021 vision is better than ever!
By Dana Damiani