Jan 8, 2010

New Years Eve’s Idealism & Realism

I cannot believe that it’s been a week since the whole “New Year’s” Holiday. It goes by in the blink of an eye and if we’re lucky, we managed to snap a few pictures through our drunken haze to document the event. New Years Eve is over…..for most of us, this warrants a sigh of relief. Yes, you read that correctly, I said RELIEF (Let me explain…)

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, everyone can relax…everyone except the 20-somethings. For us, New Years Eve is the stress that starts December 26th. I cannot tell you how many times “So, what are you doing for New Years Eve?” came up in conversation during Christmas time.

I ran into some old friends, which I don’t see very often, throughout the Christmas break. I knew I wanted to Blog about New Years Eve and our overrated expectations of the perfect night. So, I asked some friends what they thought about it.

The overall consensus: Almost everyone hates New Years Eve! It’s all a huge build up; we willingly drag ourselves through the motions, hoping for greatness, all to discover it’s just another night.

We set ourselves up for disappointment. Logically, if every Friday night we headed out to the bar, movies, bowling, dinner, dancing, and expected to have the best night of our lives….we would undoubtedly be disappointed. We know this. This is why, on any other night of the year, we act rational and just “see where the night takes us” or “see how things play out.”

But on New Years Eve we set all logic aside. Our age bracket has placed an incredible emphasis on this night. So much emphasis, that the only event I feel comfortable relating it to, is Prom.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time at Prom and I have the pictures to prove it. It’s just that, I think it’s absolutely acceptable for me to admit that Prom was NOT the best night of my life. It was NOT what “Saved By the Bell” “Full House” or “90210” promised it would be. I don’t feel melancholy or wistful in saying this.

Truth is, I think that if Prom was the best night of our lives (like these cheesy 90’s sitcoms lead us to believe) than I think we would be in for a tough future. I look back on high school and the times that were my favorite, the ones I hold close to my heart, the magical moments; were NOT at big events with overpriced tacky dresses, flowers and up-dos. Instead, the times that stand out as some of the best and most memorable were just regular days. They were nights in sweatpants where I laughed my ass off over something silly.

So, maybe knowing that these moments exist is why we put such an emphasis on midnight of December 31st? Maybe we are hoping that this moment can be one of the magical, memorable ones?

The problem is that no matter how much we hope for it, you can’t force a magical moment. You cannot plan and make something be the best time of your life.

We have taken a celebration of a fresh start and created an overwhelming amount of hype around the night-

  • Be with ALL of your friends
  • Get the best outfit
  • Go to the best party/event
  • Kiss the person of your dreams as the clock strikes 12
  • Start the best year of your life

Midnight comes every single night. Any other time when the clock strikes 12 we think about….

1. Getting another drink and how much time if left until last call OR
2. How we have to go to bed because we have work/school in the morning.

But all of a sudden, on December 31st, because the calendar tells us so, we expect greatness. It’s silly really.

The truth is that there is no fairy tale. The odds of all of your best friends and the person of your dreams, standing together in your favorite venue, to all experience ONE magical minute together is more of a Lifetime-movie-plot than reality.

And, even if somehow you have managed to accomplish all the factors listed above (hypothetically of course), then there are outside things that could infringe on the ONE minute you’ve so diligently prepared for.
- Who’s lost?
- Who’s fighting?
- Who's drank too much?
- Who crying (beer tears)?
- Who’s in line for the bathroom?

All the regular life stuff could impede on the perfect plan of a blissful 12:00AM on Dec 31st. Like I said before….its a lot of work and a lot of stress for ONE minute!

So, this year, for the first time, my friends and I decided to forget all the overrated BS. We vowed to stay in, wear sweats and drink wine. We’ve realized that our favorite moments did not occur at an event worthy of an entire picture album. It happened on a date we can’t remember, in an outfit we don’t recall. We didn’t plan on greatness, it just happened without prompting.

Once we accepted this, we agreed to forget the stress of planning the perfect night for New Years Eve. Somehow, however our plans changed. We didn’t end up staying in. We ended up at one of our favorite Friday night martini spots. We had no expectations and the night turned out to have a few unforced, unwarranted magical moments– none of which happened exactly at midnight!

When I started my master's degree in Writing Studies one of my professor’s told me “Great stories evolve out of small moments.” This applies just as much to New Years Eve as it does to Life in general.

I think, knowing that magical moments are more likely to happen WITHOUT plans, is much more comforting that thinking we have to set-the-stage for them.

So for next year, remember that the only person placing pressure on us for a "star-studded" New Years Eve is ourselves. Our best bet may be to let go of any unruly, unrealistic, expectations and stop trying to force the magic. Just be with people you love and see where the night takes you!


Life is what happens when you are busy planning ahead” –John Lennon

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” –Robert Brault