With New Year's Eve often comes the crippling pressure to do something fabulous because it's the last night of the year. Whether it's throwing the perfect party or getting a midnight kiss, everything from movies to television to music constantly promotes the idea that the perfect New Year's Eve needs to be life-changing — the start of a New Year at the stroke of midnight must come complete with a Hollywood-esque ending, soundtrack included, or it's a failure.
The expectation versus reality of this holiday results in it being a big let down for most people — in fact, a study published in the journal Psychology and Economics found that those who put the most effort into trying to have the best New Year's Eve ever are the ones least likely to do so. According to the study, 83 percent of participants who planned an epic New Year's Eve celebration were disappointed. People who attended small gatherings had a slightly better time, and those who stayed home actually had the best time. So, why do we pressure ourselves time and time again to have an epic New Year's Eve, when in reality, it might not even be what we really want? Let's take the pressure off of New Year's Eve.
If you don't want to do anything on New Year's Eve, that's OK — and if you do, that's OK too. You are totally empowered to do something or nothing. According to the Psychology and Economics journal study, "the results of this field study suggest that high expectation can lead to disappointment, and that [putting] time and effort (and perhaps money) into an event can increase dissatisfaction."
It makes sense: The stakes are often made to be extremely high on New Year's Eve. People travel from across the country to stand in Times Square in New York City in the freezing cold, and perhaps they buy a $10 beer at a nearby restaurant before being smushed into the crowd for 12 hours like sardines in a tin can. Is this really fun? Sure it looks fun to others when you post it on Instagram, but are you really having a good time IRL?
If you're already feeling FOMO about New Year's Eve and you need a reality check, consider what actor Jennifer Lawrence said on the The Graham Norton Show about how New Year's Eve has always let her down: "I've never had a good one. Everyone's chasing a good time and it's always a disappointment. I plan on doing nothing [because] I always end up drunk and disappointed."
This is definitely a case of that whole celebrities-they're-just-like-us thing. If Jennifer Lawrence has a bad New Year's Eve, it can happen to anyone. There's no problem with embracing being at home alone or with friends, doing what you want to do. The whole point of New Year's Eve is that as long as you're spending it in a way you feel comfortable, you're spending it right.
If you do enjoy going out or hosting a party on New Year's Eve, then by all means, do it. However, if you're finding that you don't enjoy it and would much rather be home watching TV, with a good book, or even in bed, we should all feel empowered to do so. Starting the year off right doesn't have to include grand gestures and soundtracks worthy of an Academy Award — it just has to include something that makes you feel good.
If you need a different way to think about it, try this: Instead of calling it New Year's Eve, call it what it really is — Monday.