Today, New Year’s Eve, is the birthday of a good friend of mine. It’s one of those birthdays that coincides with an important cultural celebration and therefore can easily get lost. So today, when I realised that it was her birthday, I decided to buy a present and write a card and take it all around to her and let her know that she is not forgotten.
Yay for me, I might say, what a wonderful person I am. But the thing is, I nearly didn’t go through with it. I had bought the gift and written in the card and I was driving to her house when my critical voice kicked in.
‘What if this looks really hypocritical?’ I thought, ‘Other years I have either completely forgotten or done something half-hearted, what if this looks totally over-the-top compared to other years and she thinks I’m trying too hard to please?’
It was imposter syndrome, pure and simple. I look like a nice person right now, sure, but she’ll remember that other years I haven’t been so good at this, and she’ll know the real me, and she’ll catch me out.
The voice was so strong that I nearly packed it all in. But, fortunately, I managed to keep driving there and (unless she’s really good at faking it) she liked the present, appreciated the card, and really appreciated that I’d made the effort.
Now I’m not saying all of this to make me look good. I know what I’m like, remember? I know the flaws really well. But as I drove away I couldn’t help thinking what I would have missed out on if I’d let the past failures stop me from living this moment whole-heartedly. What did it matter what a bad rememberer of birthdays I had been on previous years? What mattered was that I remembered today. It didn’t matter that in previous years I might have been too peopled-out to make a special drive. What mattered was that this year I had the energy, I had the idea, and I managed to put it into practice. So this year, we celebrated her birthday together and it was great.
As you approach the new year, you, like me, might be very aware of your flaws, your past failures, your regrets. But I want to encourage you to live whole-heartedly anyway. To make the effort anyway. Don’t let the knowledge of where you have failed be the thing that makes you fail again.
Let’s leave past failures in the hands of God, ask his forgiveness, and seek to live from this day onward being the best people that we can.
“Forgetting what is behind, let us press onward to reach the goal”
Happy New Year to us all.