I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. Now I know it’s the end of January, and it’s a little late to discuss this, but New Year’s Resolutions have always been a way for me to be disappointed in myself by the end of the year.
December after December, I would unearth some scrap of paper, or stumble across a note on my phone, and let out a long-suffering sigh. It would be a list of expectations I set myself based on what I thought I needed to better myself. Ones that made me feel terrible about myself and lowered my confidence.
I abandoned all attempts for a while, but this year I gave myself one goal. Write in my journal everyday. I had a skewed perspective of journaling prior to this. I always thought I had to delve deep into my mind everyday and unearth every feeling and moment and dissect it and relive all of it in detail.
But one day, my friend Sabrina pulled a notebook out of her bag and flicked back to an exact date just to see what she did that day. I wanted that easy access to my past, a little written record of Bochra. When I thanked her for inspiring me to do it, she said something that made me even more motivated to write in it every night: ‘Even if things turn bad, you can remember how good they were and why you followed through with them’.
I’ve decided on a very laid-back approach, one where I write as much or as little as I want. One where I don’t have to discuss my feelings or record every minute detail if I didn’t want to. There are days where I write pages and pages, pouring my every feeling and thought into the pages, be they positive or negative. There are others where I’m sleepy and I’ll just write what made me happy that day. The handwriting leaves a lot to be desired, the ink from my pen bleeds through the pages, and there’s a tea stain on the cover from when I set my mug on it. But ultimately, it’s for my eyes only, and it gives me great comfort these days.
Another goal I have, one that I set every year, is my reading goal. I usually record it on my Goodreads account, and as the years have gone by, the amount of books has steadily decreased. In 2015 I read a whopping 163 books. Clearly I didn’t go out much. In 2020, I surpassed my 50 book reading challenge and reached 58. I was really proud of myself! This year I chose to give myself a 50 book target again, with a couple of ground rules. These rules have been inspired by Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader illustrated marvellously by Quentin Blake just below.
As you can see, these rules are:
- The right not to read
- The right to skip
- The right not to finish a book
- The right to read it again
- The right to read anything
- The right to mistake books for real life
- The right to read anywhere
- The right to dip in
- The right to read out loud
- The right to be quiet
Now these rules are definitely ones I would have up for my class in our reading corner. But that doesn’t mean my lovely gaggle of 6 year olds are the only ones that would benefit from them.
Rules numbers 3 and 4 are really speaking to me these days. Rule number one, however, is causing a little twinge of guilt right now, considering I haven’t finished a single book since the year started.
There is no real cause for alarm. I go through a reading slump every January, putting too much pressure on ‘the first book of the year’ and dithering over choices. This year it’s been exacerbated by my poor attention span, preoccupation with … world events (one that starts with a p and ends in andemic) and teaching remotely. I’ll read something at some point, even if I have to follow rule number 4 to do it!
I guess what I’m trying to say is be kind to yourself right now! Do things that fulfill you and make you happy. Find what calms you, what brings you joy. And remember, no pressure!