Ana María González Paniagua
She/Her
Editorial Team Member

The highlights of a year are intertwined with who we have become through the hardships and successes we experienced that year. As the year comes to an end, we strive to learn from our mistakes and go down memory lane to see all we lived through. We appreciate the heartfelt moments and are thankful for another year of life. We examine the challenges to point out how we can improve and what we can learn from them. In all honesty, this is a wonderful reflective period, because although moments hurt, we learn to see the positives in our lives, and that is courageous. Or at least, I hope we do. 

However, the true bravery sets in as the new year starts. When we say “Happy New Year” we can be overfilled with joy for that new beginning, but also sad of leaving something behind or even scared of what is to come or to comply with the challenge of changing. We are usually expected to experiment with the idea of renovating who we are––setting goals for modifying ourselves and manufacturing a new us that grows closer to who we wish to become. And while that is a beautiful tradition, it can also be daunting. 

Through this blog, I wanted to explore the idea of not seeing the new year as a 180° turn to erase the past, but rather a moment where we don’t get to remove the scars of the ending year, but instead acknowledge them and seek healing them. Personally, 2023 was the hardest year I have had to endure. Physically, my body was telling me to stay home, in bed, to stop working so hard, to simply STOP. I was tired. I grew scared. I became unrecognizable in the mirror. I felt this way despite a loving family, support, friends, a home, education, and more. I had no excuse to feel so sad, or so I thought. 

In the midst of not understanding why I felt like this, I saw a hidden why. The excuse was that I was going to get powerful from overcoming my stress and sadness. The excuse was that I would learn to manage the intricacies of mental health. The excuse was I got to learn not to embrace or settle into my discomforts, but rather use them as lessons. The excuse was I would see how much love I have because I was not alone. It was REALLY tough, but eventually, I got to see the why, the excuse. 

In this new year, don’t try to change who you are, but rather improve. Don’t let your bruises define the new year, but let them educate the future. Let them give you perspective of those who love you and all the strength within you. 

It is not New Year, New Me. It is New Year, Better Me. Because overcoming our anxiety, our fear, our sadness, and our weaknesses, is the strength that guides us toward a better tomorrow.