Say what you will about Valentine’s Day; New Year’s Eve is the true couple’s night. So how can you be happy when you’re spending the night alone?
New Year’s Eve in Pop Culture
Quick – name a New Year’s movie where the couple doesn’t get together at the end. For that matter, name a single New Year’s movie without a happy couple in it at all.
Come up with anything? (Actually, if you did, please let me know in the comments. I want to watch it!)
My point is, ringing in the New Year has become a quintessential couple’s activity. It’s seen in every New Year’s movie, implied in every song, and wrapped up in every tradition. If you’re not kissing your beau when the ball drops, you’re at least supposed to be wishing you were.
Despite personally being in a long term, living-apart-together relationship, my significant other and I have never spent a New Year’s Eve together. Even so, spending this night alone isn’t something I feel sad about. And it never was. I never look for a New Year’s party to attend. In fact, after attending one with a friend, I now politely decline any invitations. The personal belief I’ve come to is this: If you’re looking for truly meaningful night, spend New Year’s Eve alone.
My Single New Year’s Eve
For me, New Year’s Eve is less a time for loud celebration than it is a chance to be still and reflect upon the passing year.
Over the years, I’ve developed a few rituals that help me make the most out of this special night. In contrast to the loud and bubbly party in Times Square, I like my New Year’s to be more subdued. I shut off the lights, light a candle or two, and do the following:
1. I create a playlist.
Every year I create a New Year’s playlist. This collection usually features a lot of quiet, somber songs. Some are straight up tear-jerkers. Now I know I just said that being alone on New Year’s doesn’t have to be sad, but I think some sincere reflection is bound to be tinged with sadness. And as we all learned from Pixar’s Inside Out, sadness doesn’t have to be a negative thing. After a long, hard year, a quasi-mournful playlist is beautifully cathartic.
The thing is, the emotional ache my playlist inspires doesn’t originate from feelings of loneliness or inadequacy. It comes from a deep realization that we are beings that exist in a temporal world, in which we can only travel forward. It comes from a profound (but not frightened) understanding that we are mortal. From the much-needed release of every negative thing that happened over the past year.
(For those of you saying, “Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a guide on how to have a happy, solo New Year’s Eve?” don’t worry. Step one was simply saying goodbye to the old. And goodbyes are always a little bit sad.)
2. I watch a movie.
What better way to stay up late than with a classic movie? Films like It’s A Wonderful Life help me say goodbye to all things past, and to look toward the future with optimism. Others would include Interstellar, The Shawshank Redemption, Wristcutters: A Love Story, and Monsters (2010), to name a few.
These are movies that take me through a range of emotion, but that end on an uplifting – even inspiring – note.
3. I lay plans for the future.
If the old year has been rough, it can be difficult to look forward to the new. That’s why I watch an inspiring movie after listening to my sad playlist. But the best way to get genuinely excited for what this new future holds is to create a plan for it.
Obviously you can’t map out every little detail of your life, but I’m continually amazed by the power of having a plan. I start by asking myself what I want to achieve in the upcoming year, and then writing down the answers. I can’t stress this enough: write it all down.
Why Does This Work for Me?
Everyone has their own thing. My New Year’s practice might not float your boat. But I prefer it to the loud, noisy, social party we’re told to go enjoy.
New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for some low-key meditation and conscious reflection of the past year. Candles glowing, playlist playing, and scenes from a hope-filled movie in my head, I allow myself to feel all that the past year has brought, and all that I hope for the New Year.
I practiced this tradition when I lived with roommates, and still do now that I live alone. If I ever live with someone again, I believe I’ll still spend my New Year’s Eves alone. Reflection of this nature needs to be done in solitude. The bright distractions are fine, but nothing quite ties up the loose threads of the old year, and welcomes the potential of the new like thoughtful solitude.
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