There’s a popular idea that we’re meant to spend the night of New Year’s Eve with the people we love the most. It’s also said that how you spend your New Year is how you will spend the rest of the year. For some that’s a lovely affirmation that the rest of the year will be a lovely time celebrating with loved ones, but how does that feel when you are spending the “most important night of the year” alone?
I used to hate New Year’s Eve with a passion. Every year I would feel it creeping closer, knowing that I didn’t have anything planned. My anxiety would go into overdrive, but because I was so scared of reaching out to people, I couldn’t bring myself to even ask my friends what they were doing.
Soon it would be a few days before the big day, and I’d still have nothing planned. Some years, I’d get an invite to a party/barbeque from a friend or random acquaintance, and occasionally I would muster up the courage to attend. However, while this did make me feel included on one level, I would usually end up surrounded by people I didn’t know and cursing myself for not being able to “act normal”. This situation only reinforced my idea of myself as someone who couldn’t get along with other people and would feel alone forever.
The other option, of course, was not getting an invite to anything. Those years I would stay home, drink excessively by myself and cry at some point during the night. I’d obsess over every perceived flaw I had and think about all the people in my life who had better things to do than spend time with me. Even though I’d never dream of contacting them to make a plan, I felt bitterly rejected.
Neither of these options ever felt satisfying. I always considered that if New Year’s Eve was an indicator of how my year was to continue, this meant that I was doomed to spend my year feeling desperately alone and incapable of healthy human relationships. I was a failure who didn’t have a single soul who cared about me, or at least that was how I saw it.
One year, something changed, and I had a brain wave. I was so sick of agonising over my NYE plans (or lack thereof) that I decided to take things into my own hands.. I would stay home alone, on purpose, and try to distract myself from the ridiculous pressure I felt. Even if anyone invited me out, I would politely decline.
That year I spent New Year’s Eve having a bubble bath (complete with candles), reading, cooking myself an extravagant dinner, and enjoying a moderate amount of wine. I figured that if this one night set the tone for the entire year to come, I wanted to be happy in my own company, showing myself the love and care that I desired from others.
In the years that have come since, I’ve continued this tradition of spending the last night of the year intentionally at home. I’ve even added some new aspects, like doing some self-reflection activities on the year past, and intention-setting for the year to come. Last year, I even let my partner join in, but still with the focus of prioritising myself and my own wellbeing. It might not be the most exciting or glamourous way to start a year, but it never fails to set me up in the right mindset, and I no longer worry about how much fun other people might be having without me.