“New Year Resolutions are the dumbest things” Kali said as she sipped her glass of white wine with an eye roll.
I just made a shrug at her comment. It had stemmed from her catching a glimpse at my phone that had a google search of ‘how to make new year's resolutions happen’ and had stumbled into ‘how to make a vision board’. I found an app and started making one on my phone.
“They are” she insisted.
Kali had short almost black, brown hair, hazel eyes and wore makeup to look like she wasn’t wearing makeup. She had naturally tan skin and was tall, especially in her wedge heels. She still had her cheerleader-body from college.
My name is Katie, and I'm average height but looked short next to Kali. I never did anything sporty; I stayed on the thin side by being picky and being lucky. I had light brown hair and eyes. I wore basic makeup, like foundation, mascara and lip-gloss. I was average in everything from my interests to my grades throughout school.
Kali had to keep slightly better grades to stay on the cheer squad in school.
We kept being roommates after college and let’s just say our dreams from college about after college life seemed better off in the toilet than in our heads.
We both got fired and hired from covid based stuff, neither of us had lasting or meaningful romantic relationships, and we just took in the passing years with no risks. I always thought that meant being safe- no risk means no reward but also no loss.
But that didn’t seem true- when one doesn’t take risks for rewards, you still get losses. Only without cool stories of trial and error.
I sighed. I had been at my family’s for Christmas and my mom handed me some papers from school to sort through before she tossed them. I had come across a hand-out about the Law of Attraction. That led me to rabbit-hole searching about manifesting and energy.
What vibes did I put out? I wasn’t a bad person, per se, but I wasn’t a good person either. I randomly stuck a dollar or loose change into the red buckets outside of stores at the holidays, but I rarely donated or helped my fellow man beyond that. I always got the same thing at the same restaurants and watched reality stars’ lives more than I participated in my own.
And I read online that I could change that; but I had to put in the effort and work. That good things come to those who do good things. Having an exciting life meant trying new things and experiencing life.
I figured actually making new year’s resolutions for once would be a good start. A whole year, 365 days to make life better for myself. I came up with the idea as Kali and I walked into a bar the night before New Year’s Eve. We didn’t have a group to party with after we graduated, so Kali and I usually spent it in our apartment with a cheap individual can of champagne each from the gas-station. We tried to go out to a bar one year but trying to get an uber that night was impossible, and we ended up freezing outside the bar for 45 minutes until we just walked home with our heels in our hands. Never again, we vowed.
“What makes you think having ‘new year resolutions’ Kali had made her voice high-pitched and mocking “will actually change anything?” she asked.
She put one hand on the side of her head and used her other hand to signal to the bartender.
“Because it’s the chances we take that make life great” the bartender responded instead as she took Kali’s glass.
When she came back with the glass refilled, Kali looked at her and sarcastically asked “OH? Was it you new year’s resolution to be a bartender?”
The bartender gave a light smile. She looked too young to be behind a bar; maybe it was her blue eyes that were so full of life. Or maybe it was because she was so short, only her neck stuck out over the bar counter.
“It was my new year’s resolution two years ago to get a job I liked. I was punching in at some office where I edited reports all day. The pay was crappy, the day was crappy, and I had a strict dress code and my life drained out of me. And one night the week before New Year's Eve, this bar was understaffed, and I was bemoaning my office life and the bartender told me to apply. They were hiring immediately. Just then I had gotten an email on my phone from my office-boss telling me that all employees were to not go out on New Year's Eve and there had better not be even a hint of any social media showing we did or else; I replied with a two-week notice and applied here.”
“Didn’t you lose benefits and better pay?” Kali asked suspiciously.
“There weren’t a lot of ‘benefits’ to begin with and, between tips and rentals, I make a little more. And I just got income-based health insurance through the state and started making my own investments for the future. Plus, I can dress for the most part how I want with relatively flexible hours.” She smiled.
“I bet your parents are really proud that you’re a bartender” Kali cocked a brow.
“My parents don’t rule my life. And for the record, they don’t care”
She went off to take care of other patrons.
Kali rolled her eyes and took a long sip.
I was inspired. It was about what made me happy. Not what made anyone else, even my best friend or parents. I never chased my happiness. I don’t think I ever really even thought much about it. I always tried to not rock the boat, especially with Kali.
I mean, I love her, she’s been a great, generally supportive friend. But she is very close-minded and strong-willed to the point of obstinacy.
And I needed to be strong for my own good and needs and happiness.
I finished my drink, left cash, and told Kali I’d meet her back home later.
She lifted her glass in acknowledgement and said “Stay safe” over her shoulder.
I didn’t even finish closing my coat as I hurried down the street. There was a mini-strip mall close to the bar. I needed supplies on the cheap and on the fly. I glanced at my phone for the list I was making as I hurried down the street, my breath coming out in visible puffs.
I went into the first place which was a dollar store. I picked up a poster board, glue stick, scotch tape, and a pack of markers. Then I stopped into the CVS and plugged in my phone and printed off the random images I had saved on the vision board app. As they went across the screen to be printed, I imagined it was like seeing your life pass before your eyes, but it was a vision of the future that an hour ago I didn’t have or knew I wanted.
But I wanted it now; so very badly. I was tired of ho-hum and same old wasting away days. And it wasn’t too late. And I wouldn’t waste any more time. But I knew I needed a reminder to follow through.
I eagerly collected up my printouts and called for an uber.
Once in the apartment, I spread my purchases across the small square dining room table. I carefully wafted each printout over the poster board until I felt like I found the place for it. I glued each down but just in case, I also put a piece of tape across the top of each one. I also used the markers to write things like “places I want” and “goals” along with little doodles. I wasn’t an artist, but this wasn’t going on the market. This was for me and myself.
I finished my first vision board and I looked at it admirably. These were the things I wanted and that would add value to my life. I felt like I was being reborn already. Nothing impossible was on the board; no trips to Dubai or Mount Everest climbs. It wasn’t intentional or thought out; I just went on a whim of what I wanted in the moment. And I was shocked to realize there was so much basic stuff I missed out on; beaches, hikes, aquariums, watching a movie in an actual theater. Having new foods like oysters or authentic ramen, trying sushi.
Owning one actual true luxury fashion item. Trying new makeup looks. I just wanted to transform into a person who... tried.
2023 Katie was going to try. And I could see it every day with my new vision board of my visible New Year Resolutions.
Happy New Year