Offbeat Academia: Show some New Year’s resolve

This year, try to actually stick to a few resolutions. At least, take the opportunity to try new things.

After finals are done next week, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to really learn anything new for a month. However, the feeling of freedom and relaxation does not last long as the next week approaches, bringing final grades and thus making or breaking your holiday.

Just as we can prepare for finals as in any life situation, we can learn from them. The same way you promise yourself to study more next semester, you can promise yourself to eat better next year. And December is a time just as good as any to learn from mistakes (or achievements). The holidays provide a built-in opportunity for us to get our acts together: New Year’s resolutions.

Maybe this semester was rough for you because it’s your first year off campus, and you’ve lost your work ethic to parties and video games. Could it be you wasted time on something that turned out to be insignificant compared to something better, which you neglected?

Perhaps you’re like me and you brought your cat from home to live with you, and she turned out to be almost as stressful and fickle as a newborn baby. In short, there is always something more you can take away from the end of semester (or a year) than just your physics grade.

Granted, an F in life is a little more serious than an F in any class (although the latter can cause the former). However, in addition to learning from experiences, we react to things pretty similarly across all aspects, be it a lower-than-expected grade or a shredded bicycle tire. I’m not suggesting we react with the same intensity but rather in the same manner. Me, I’ll cry and whine about both.

Consequently, we use similar coping mechanisms, as well. Maybe you shrug off a 2.0 GPA just as you would if you were turned down for sex.

“NBD, man. No big deal.”

I’d say most of us, though, plan to work harder. You start ticking off new goals in your head. You’re going to study more, drink less, pay attention in class, join study groups, wake up earlier, etc. Just listen to “Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley, and you’ll get it.

It’s definitely a good outlook and is most effective in the worst situations.

Once, I was riding on my bike in the rain and the crank starting eating my shoelace. Even as I pedaled to safety on the side of Broad Street, my shoe was being sucked inward.

So I’m hobbling on one foot in the rain, with the other wound around the left pedal between the two sides of the Vine Street Expressway. I could count on Philadelphia for not giving me any help at all – the only attention I got was a group of boys walking down the sidewalk, telling me to get out of the street before I get run over. Thanks.

But, after trying to pedal backward to reverse the situation and then finally taking my left shoe off, I got back on the proverbial horse (or bike) and kept riding. I didn’t blame the bike, the rain or the boys. I just promised myself I’d check my shoe more often to make sure it was tied.

Unfortunately, these promises to ourselves are not very well enforced. At least we had good intentions, though, right? I mean, what are New Year’s resolutions if not just opportunities to try new things? If you thought they were lifetime commitments, you are certainly mistaken. We don’t really want to stop drinking, go jogging every morning or be nicer to strangers. It’s just nice to pretend for a little while.

If anything, you should at least promise yourself the next time you see a small girl bound to her bicycle by her shoe, you will help a sister out.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

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