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  • Jeff South

New Year, Same Me


When I was in college, January 1st marked the annual attempt to finally get organized. No other resolutions were entertained. Eating better and exercising never made the list. A more disciplined approach to writing was pushed aside in favor of getting my shit together. The notion of an organized lifestyle carried weight with me. It was the answer to all my problems. It was all exercise in gathering the props to create the illusion of becoming organized, though. Each year before the start of the new semester, I would purchase all the perceived tools for improving my study habits. I was a terrible student. Unfocused. Undisciplined. Easily distracted. My freshman year was decent, but I quickly devolved into a mess who didn't go to class enough and scrambled to make it through the semester.


Organization would solve that, I thought. That never happened.


Pens. It started with buying the right pens. To this day, I am particular about my pens. The proper writing utensil was critical to my ability to take notes. The uni-ball was my pen of choice. No other pen would do. I experimented with other kinds. Paper-Mate pens were cheaper, but I didn't like the way they felt in my hand. Atrocious penmanship has haunted me since grade school. I've always required a comfortable writing instrument. Getting organized would be a pipe dream without a uni-ball.


Upon arrival back in my dorm room or apartment, I would rid my desk of any and all superfluous items and line my textbooks neatly. My new five-subject notebook would sit in the middle of the desk, ready to be filled with copious notes. My excitement for a new semester was palpable and I couldn't wait to show the world what a studious scholar I could be.


This lasted about a week and a half.


Classes would be skipped. Reading assignments would be ignored. Papers would be haphazardly constructed at the last minute in an effort to provide the appearance of hard work. I knew nothing of how to truly get my shit together when it came to school. Discouragement settled in quickly. Desire dwindled. Then, the pattern would repeat itself the following January. This is why it took me six years to finish my undergrad. Grad school was better, but I still struggled.


This is why I don't make New Year's resolutions. Too easily discouraged and disillusioned when I fall back into the same old habits.


What I focus on instead is doing one thing each day to be better than I was the day before in some facet of my life. Husband. Father. PawPaw. Employee. Training facilitator. Writer. Friend. Human. The goal is to find some way to keep moving forward. It's the journey, not the destination, right?


I've made a list of things I'd like to be better about in 2023. Read more, especially poetry. Write more. Get that next book done. Love more. Judge less. Embrace change. Significantly decrease screen time. I guess if I *had* to name a resolution, it would consist of two simple words.


Be better.



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