The Problem With January Issues

And by issues, I mean magazines.  Or do I?

As you may know, I’m an avid reader of, like, ten gazillion magazines.  Well, maybe not quite that many, but I do subscribe to and purchase quite a good amount of glossies.  I like to talk about them, too, and I’ve often said that if I could go through my college education a second time I’d probably major in journalism with the goal of writing for some publication, whether online or in print.  I would write for magazines, and hopefully one day, a fashion publication.

I love fashion publications so much because they add flavor and color to the seasons.  There’s always something new to see or try, and there’s always something ahead to be excited about.  You see Amy Adams in a sparkly, sequined dress on a December cover and you just think CHRISTMAS- the gift guides (all under $500!), the “how to party without gaining a pound or losing a wink of sleep” nonsense, and all the articles on glittery makeup for grown-ups.  Or you see a tan, boho-waved Kate Hudson on a July cover and you feel like summer is finally here, with all its reviews of the latest sunblock innovations and tutorials on creative ways to braid your hair when it’s oily and disgusting.  I’ve mentioned it before, but the September and March issues tend to overwhelm me because they’re so large, and it feels like such a non-negotiable forecast on my style choices that I get panicky.  Isn’t that weird?  I feel such feelings of urgency and inadequacy when I read those issues that I need to go out and get those lug-soled heels right now before fall has past and I’m completely off trend and the season is over and I missed Fall Fashion Week and now it’s time for bathing suits and YOU’RE LATE BYE FELICIA.

No one else feel that way?  No one?  Whatever.

Now, January issues are different.  January issues I love.  Why?  Because the insanity and emotional roller coaster that is the holidays (or at least, that’s how it’s felt for the past few years in my case for a variety of reasons) is finally over, and it shows in the January issues, let me tell ya.  Celebrations, parties, and family get-togethers, while generally enjoyable, tend to come at a price.  There’s planning, there’s gift-buying, there’s people-pleasing, there’s Christmas-card-writing, there’s family-seeing, there’s dressing up, there’s anxiety, there’s so much shopping that you’re practically suffocating from all the perfume samples, and then there are just the general emotions of nostalgia, longing, and reflection that come with the season.  You feel weak.  You feel tired.  Maybe you even feel sad.  You feel desperate to finally get the holidays “right”.  You again need to be reminded for the billionth time of what Christmas really is and means, whether through a tearful viewing of “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” with your husband or the hymns you sing or the sermon you hear.  You’ve arrived at another year’s end and realized … again … that you’re barely hanging on to your humanity, and you’re weak.  And you’re tired.

But January issues.  January issues wipe all that away and seem to want the world for you.  The cover lines would have you believe that the world is your freaking oyster!

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Your Happiest Year!  Let’s Motivate!  The 2015 Change Your Life Guide!  31 Days To the Best You Ever!  Love Your Body!  

And no January issue ever seems to be longer than 100 pages … totally doable!

Every January issue is nothing short of devoted to empowerment, to starting over, to self-renewal.  And I do love it!  Whether at home, at work, in beauty, in health, or in love, January issues are all about pressing the reset button and creating entirely new goals with eardrum-bursting enthusiasm.  And this can’t be anything but good, right?  I mean, we should call this all great, right?!  Every page dedicated to mantras like “Do What You Love”, “Jump Start Your Career”, “Make Your Mark”, “New Year, New Do”.  After all the madness that was December, you just cannot wait to take those cover stories seriously and make this new year your happiest year.  Whether it’s that new haircut, that new workout plan, or that new travel goal, this new year should be your happiest year.

But a funny thing happened to me as I perused through all those January issues this past week, through all that encouragement, through all that self-motivation and those ceaseless chants of YES YOU CAN!

I felt even more anxiety than I had before.  I thought, as I read through those endless suggestions of how to be better, how I should do more of what I love, how I should go after what I deserve … I need to change.  I need to change right now.  This needs to be my happiest year!  It’s time to take charge.  It’s time to transform.  This has got to be MY YEAR.  It’s time to turn into a workout machine, or a simplified, organization boss who’s rid herself of all unnecessary possessions, or a mentally tough person who isn’t afraid, or the girl who at least does her hair really, really well all the time (and with the Instagram followers to prove it!).  I will finish writing that novel, I will travel more, I will stand up for myself, I will work for that butt I want, I will sprinkle chia on everything, I will treat myself more, and I will conquer my deepest fears!  It’s time to be happy, it’s time to love myself!  I need … to love … my self … NOW!

And suddenly, those feelings of urgency and inadequacy … there they are again.  And the September issues are still a whole seven months away.

I can’t help but believe that maybe an avalanche of “self-help” isn’t the whole answer to our stress and weaknesses, and that wiping the slate entirely won’t fix the problems that, well, can’t just be wiped away.  Don’t get me wrong- January issues really might be my favorite issues of the year.  I’m serious, I bought ALL the magazines.  However, I think I just want to speak to the people who see cover lines like “Your Happiest Year!”, and quietly worry to themselves “What if it’s not my happiest?”, or even “What if this one’s worse than the last?”; or those who know that a juice cleanse and new membership at the yoga studio can’t make the pain you felt in 2014 magically go away.  There are those that cannot even see the written expression “2015” on a magazine cover without perhaps being filled with a sense of dread and fear of the future, and I mean to speak to you.

And honestly, I want you to know that this is okay.  When you see Reese Witherspoon looking confident as all get-out with her words “I don’t do regret” on the cover of Glamour, it’s okay if you do feel the pang of regret and failure in your own life.  When you see Jennifer Lopez on the cover of Self, claiming “I’m facing my fears and working on myself”, don’t sink into despair if your fears still cripple you at times and you barely even know who your “self” is.

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“I want to prove I’m a superwoman” … you don’t have to be, and you are free from ever trying to prove such a thing.  “You have to live with an open heart all the time” … but if you struggle with vulnerability, don’t be discouraged.

What I also want you to know, however, is that you can still take heart and have joy.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not even look through a January issue.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not light that candle of hope, to not believe that with all the darkness 2015 may bring, that it won’t come without its own promises and healing.  And I mean this in the smaller sense, as well.  Buy those new yoga pants.  Sit down and start planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take, even if it’s just a drive to the next big city.  Come up with that new plan for tackling your “to do” list in the mornings at the office.  Stock up on blueberries, or find a new lipstick shade you love.  Try baking the cookies with the coconut flour.  And maybe even chop off your hair.  But give yourself grace, and don’t be afraid to feel the pain that so unavoidably comes with life, even if the world around you is telling you that this should be “your happiest year”.  2015 will not be a loss.

The kitchen “mini makeover” (that never feels so “mini” in the end) can wait if it has to, and it will come when it should.  So can the barre class, the social media account, and that amazing entrepreneurial idea of yours that’s going to change the world.  After all, the happiest years are yet to come.  You are enough for 2015.  xo, MR

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