The first few days of the new year are always weird. Not because they feel any different than the last year, but because they feel exactly the same.
Humans created these time designations, and because we’ve added such significance to them, we expect them to be impactful. But really, the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, and by 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, the only thing that’s changed is that you’re a minute older and you’ve possibly just kissed a stranger.
The part that’s actually impactful about the new year is the feeling of having to pull yourself back into waking life. Starting around the week of Thanksgiving, we enter into this lazy, gluttonous, dreamlike holding period in which nearly every big responsibility can get deferred to “after the new year.”
Even if it’s Dec. 29, “after the new year” sounds so far away that it feels like some distant goal that may not ever actually materialize. But depending on when New Year’s Eve falls, come Jan. 2 or Jan. 3, we have to yank ourselves out of our holiday procrastination dream land and do all the shit we’ve been putting off for a month-and-a-half.
The first few days of the new year feel a lot like when your alarm goes off and you think, “Do I really have to get up right now?” Once you get back into full productivity mode though, it can feel pretty good — almost like, “Ah, yes! I no longer feel like a garbage monster who’s done nothing but eat, drink and wish people nice sentiments for a month-and-a-half.”
This is probably what it feels like to come out of retirement. Not that I’ll ever know; you have to be able to figure out how to retire before you can come out of it.
Maybe the new year doesn’t really start until next week. Maybe we just chalk up that first week as a grace period, like that gap in the morning between when you wake up and when your coffee kicks in.
The second week is when the caffeine takes hold, and you go from inwardly (and outwardly) saying, “I don’t wanna do anything,” to “alright, I’m ready to kick some ass!”
That second part feels really good doesn’t it?
That’s what makes a new year so exciting. I mean, yes, the idea of being able to wrap up the previous year in a nice little bow and toss it in the back of the closet, only taking it out to examine it every once in awhile, is nice. But really, that feeling of shaking off the holiday malaise and grabbing life by the shorthairs (or at least attempting to) feels good. It feels like you have a purpose.
I think I just heard a collective groan all across San Francisco. I get it: It’s still too early to be feeling chipper about getting back on track.
There hasn’t been enough days in the new year for the coffee to have fully kicked in yet. But I’m already excited and ready to work. There’s a lot to get done personally, locally and nationally.
Luckily, I’m a morning person.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.