The Feminist Resolutions You Make When You're A Kid Vs. When You're An Adult
I've been making New Year's resolutions since, well, for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite self-imposed holiday traditions was to spend New Year's Eve doodling in whatever new journal I got for Christmas, using a metallic gold Gelly Roll pen to put in ink my glorious plans for the future. Making New Year's resolutions as a kid wasn't so much about soul searching and self-improvement as it was an opportunity to get excited about the year ahead. I wouldn't have to ever worry about being grounded or sent to my room again, because I would resolve to stop fighting with my parents over doing my chores forever. I wouldn't have to stress about cramming last-minute for a math test I'd known about for weeks, because I was resolving to study for at least 20 minutes every night. Old me was pretty freaking awesome, but future me? She was gonna have life made.
But then January 2 rolled along and... things got messy. I rolled my eyes at my mom when she asked me to do the dishes. My algebra notes lay crumpled in a forgotten heap at the bottom of my backpack. I made my sister cry. I implicated my friends in passive aggressive away messages on AIM. It usually only took a few days into the new year for me to come to terms with the fact that, welp, old me wasn't planning on leaving anytime soon. Which is why, more often than not, I'd trade in all the resolutions I'd painstakingly made myself for an easier promise to keep — to simply stay awesome.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app.
As an adult, resolutions can definitely feel a little tricky. What starts off as a simple and fairly low-risk way to map out how you want the year to go can easily start to feel like one massive to-do list — and not necessarily one that makes you feel good about yourself. In a survey of 822 Bustle readers, 36 percent of respondents who said they make resolutions each year said they do so because they like to set goals for themselves; 20 percent said they usually drop those resolutions after three months. In the same survey, 13 percent of people who make resolutions said they only usually stick to them for one day, while 20 percent of respondents said resolutions make them feel either stressed out or disappointed.
The resolutions we make as grown-ass adults aren't just different than they were when we were kids — they're also more high stakes. It's not enough to resolve to tuck a few dollars of your allowance each week into your piggy bank as you try to save up for that trip to Disney World — you're saving up for a 401K because you've been told it's important, even though you're not sure how you can juggle it on top of monthly rent and student loans. You're not promising to do your homework every night — you're telling yourself that this is the year you'll stay at work until 8 p.m. every night so that you can finally get that promotion you deserve. As an adult, resolutions no longer seem fun. They just seem... kinda annoying.
That's why, in 2017, Bustle is encouraging women to rethink the way they make resolutions. Rather than getting tripped up in lofty, superficial goals that ultimately only lead to feelings of self-doubt, it's time to embrace ourselves, our accomplishments, and our capabilities. Believe it or not, looking back at resolutions you made as a kid — and how they translate in today's world — may just be exactly the feminist inspiration you need to kick off your biggest, baddest year yet. Here are nine surprisingly feminist resolutions you made when you were younger, and how they're still completely relevant today. Whether or not you actually keep them is entirely up to you.
Back when you were a kid, this may have involved making sure everyone in your squad had matching friendship bracelets. As an adult, though, you've come to understand the immense power of female camaraderie. It's great to have your girls, but it's even more inspiring to feel like you're part of a network of people who have your back, no matter what life throws at you. This year, resolve to show support for the women you love — both ones you know, and ones you simply admire. Support Kickstarter campaigns for women-led projects you're excited about. Volunteer your time to help other women who might be struggling. Email words of encouragement to a co-worker who is kicking ass, or simply tell a friend over brunch how much she means to you. Showing you care is remarkably easy, not to mention it can be unbelievably inspiring.
You had an inkling back in your childhood days that Mom knew what she was talking about, but now that you've officially entered ~adulthood~ you realize this woman was a bona fide genius. One of the best ways to learn about other women is to talk to other women — and if you're lucky enough to have a familial support system of matriarchs to look up to, then you're in mighty fine shape. Make 2017 the year you don't just listen to your mom — you actually ask her questions, too. Find out what she was up to at your age, what she would do differently, and what she wouldn't change for a hundred million years. Ask her for advice. Actually take her advice. Moms are smart AF, and yours in particular is looking out for you.
When you were younger, this probably meant convincing your neighbor whose parents paid for premium cable to invite you over for Lizzy McGuire marathons. These days, you don't have to depend on the girl across the street to catch some seriously good TV — you're a grown-ass woman who pays for her own Netflix, and has no problem dedicating an entire weekend to catching up on shows that feature strong, independent, intersectional female characters. There are some seriously good shows making waves right now, and getting immersed in a full season is a great (and pretty easy) way to introduce yourself to women of all different backgrounds and beliefs.
Back in middle school, organization was key to making sure you turned in class assignments on time, and the Trapper Keeper was instrumental in keeping your sanity intact. You don't have to worry about homework now, and thank goodness — your beautiful brain is too full of other things like work deadlines, networking engagements, and social commitments to keep track of when a vocab worksheet is due. But while you may no longer have a Trapper Keeper to stylishly help you organize Very Important Things, it's a good idea to have some method of organization to help you stay on top of all that you have going on. For some people, this might literally just mean writing things down on a bunch of sticky notes and posting them in places you know you'll see them. Do whatever works for you — but make sure you go into 2017 having a system in place. That way, you can save up brain space for more important things... like doing whatever the heck you want.
You know what sucks about bullies? They never actually go away, even when you're an adult. When you were a kid, it's possible you resolved to stand up for yourself against people who tried to publicly humiliate you, or make you feel inferior. It's not an easy thing to do, and it doesn't get easier, but look to your younger self for inspiration. She wasn't about to let some dumb boy break up her tetherball game at recess, and you don't have time to let others get in your way now that you're a serious adult. Stand up for what you believe in. After all, you're the only person who will 100 percent always have your back.
For some reason, there's an odd stigma attached to women who speak up for themselves, and for many, this dates all the way back to elementary school when being the first to raise your hand in class was a surefire way to get yourself relegated to know-it-all nerd status. But you know what? It's awesome being a know-it-all. Know-it-alls get stuff done. Know-it-alls are ultimately the people who get recognized and praised for coming up with such great ideas. So, when you get ready to enter that first staff meeting of 2017, come ready to dominate.
While you're raising your hand, make sure you let the world know that, hi, women are incredible, and they are capable of doing incredible things, and every single time society tries to prove otherwise, we all lose. Be vocal about your feminism. Be active. Join women's groups that align with your beliefs. Engage in conversation. Let the world know what you're reading or what you're listening to, which feminist webseries you're obsessed with and which bloggers you're following on Twitter and Instagram. Help get the word out that yes, girls rule.
As a kid, you knew that girls could play sports and join clubs and have all the same interests as boys. And now that you're a fully grown woman? Remind yourself that the same principle holds true. Resolve this year to go for that promotion, to ask for the raise you deserve, to join in on projects that excite you. In 2017, absolutely nothing is going to be holding you back.
Because regardless of what anyone says, you are perfection — just like you were as a kid.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Images: Hannah Burton/Bustle; Alyssa Foote/Bustle