Without crying. Too much.
It’s Monday morning. You may not have noticed because it is also In-Between Week, where space, time, and certainly arbitrary names given to periods of daylight occurring in seven-day increments don’t matter worth a hoot. Thursday is New Year’s Eve, and while we’re all pleased as sparkling punch that 2020 is on its way out, the little present it’s leaving us is the fact that many of us will be celebrating alone. New Year’s Eve alone is a scary concept when you read it typed out like that. But having been to this particular sequined rodeo before, I can honestly tell you it ain’t that bad. I can prove it, too.
Oddly enough, being single for the last 13 years of my adulthood and creating written content and podcasts on the matter was strange preparation for the solitude of 2020. While many people were figuring out how to do things alone for the first time, I was defending my thesis on the topic. (Not really but my god, I’d like to.) I’ve had a lot of time to work out strategies and best practices for spending “big” moments on our own, and I’d like to share them with you below. Please bear in mind that scrapping them all and simply doing nothing and being in bed by a respectable 9:45pm is an option for you, if you need it to be. If you need something that resembles a party, read on.
Listen to me, you disorganized sacks: You were all bad at planning New Year’s before 2020, so let yourself off the hook here a bit. It’s not like this was the year to suddenly change everything about yourselves. Personally, I love New Years Eve, I am very good at planning New Year’s Eve, and next year when things are normal I highly advise you to adopt a one-and-done rule to celebrating. Perhaps a late seating at a cool restaurant, a house party, or one of those big-ticket balls like in the end of When Harry Met Sally. Whatever you do, go there and stay there until it’s time to go home, and the quicker after midnight you go home, the more cabs there will be. Pro tip.
Back to this year’s flaming pile of hopes and dreams. Make sure you plan ahead for the kind of evening you want to have. Everything from ordering food/drinks, making playlists, selecting an outfit even if you’re the only one who sees it, whatever you want around you on that night, make sure you have it before sunset on the 31st. Failing to do even a little bit of planning ahead will leave you sad and frustrated and you’re too cute for that.
Personally, I’ve rented a room at a hotel that I’ve wanted to stay at forever, as a little gift to myself for having survived alone, like ALONE ALONE, since March. All of its restaurants are closed, but dammit I will use every single in-room amenity to the hilt. I’m also going to bring my own champagne and snacks and a big ass can of Lysol. The point is, I thought ahead about what would make me feel like I had a special night on New Year’s Eve, and I put those things in place. What feels “special” will vary from person to person, and I encourage you to tailor your evening specifically to you. That’s allowed.
This is no time for neutral tones. Things that glitter and sparkle really do lift the mood, and we have Christmas to thank for leaving a lot of that shit lying around for us right now. Lights, sparkles, sequins, edible glitter if you’ve got it—I don’t care that we’re on our own. Confetti is confetti no matter how many people are vacuuming it up the next day. The point is: Just because you’re celebrating solo, that doesn’t mean you’re not “enough” to decorate and create a special atmosphere for yourself. Yourself is someone who just survived a global pandemic, and that’s worth celebrating.
We live in a culture that centers people in couples and families, as if people who are alone are somehow less worthy of living life fully. Yes that entire cheese plate is for you. Yes that entire bottle of champagne or non-alcoholic sparkling beverage is yours. Yes it’s “just you.” Who the fuck cares? Honestly if anyone cares, gives you side-eye, or makes you feel ashamed for throwing yourself a New Year’s Eve, they don’t need to be in your life anymore in 2021. There’s a resolution for you.
Be Sad If You Want!
Listen to me: Crying is fine. It’s more than fine. It’s healthy and cathartic and healing. Resist the urge to resist the urge to cry, is what I’m saying. Whatever you’re feeling on your solo New Year’s is exactly what you’re allowed to feel. There might be a compulsion to “fix” what you’re feeling or make yourself feel a different way, as if feelings of sadness are ill timed on NYE. But this is 2020—feel what you feel when you feel it and you’re right on time.
Distract, Distract, Distract.
I’m not above lying to myself, do you hear me?! Sometimes, when things are too much, my brain and my nervous system simply need a break. Distractions and things that occupy my mind so much that it shuts off entirely are exactly the break I need. Again, these will be unique to the individual, but I always find that movies do the trick, perhaps even standup comedy specials. Cooking is also a great way to distract myself but I don’t want to get anything on my sparkly top. Music, craft projects, etc. are all ways that I create a diversion for my brain so I can take things a little easier when I need to. I’m saving Netflix’s Death To 2020 to watch in my New Year’s hotel room, if I need it.
One other smart distraction method that has grown in popularity this year is ZOOMING. Friend, Zoom the shit out of people. FaceTime. Skype. WhatsApp someone in a different country and use their countdown if you’re too tired to make it to yours. Connect with people you love through screens you hate and remember that this is all temporary. Make each other laugh and cry and do a quiz if you have nothing to talk about. There really is no such thing as alone when the Internet exists, and it helps to remember that no one is having the New Year’s they thought they would. That doesn’t mean we can’t all have one that makes the best of things, a full 2020 mood.
You really don’t have to do anything. If it feels like too much, than it is, and Thursday is allowed to be just another night to cook dinner and watch a couple episodes of your show and then go to bed. Permission granted. Even in the Before, I often found that people had a bad time on New Year’s Eve when they were expecting something huge and fabulous to just kind of “happen” to them. (Again, this is why I say plan ahead.) New Year’s Eve can smell pressure. No pressure is required any year, but most certainly this one. It’s okay to let it all go, and you don’t have to feel like you missed an opportunity, either. Remember, January 1st is a day on a calendar. Your own personal “fresh start” can begin whenever you want. Or as many times as you want. May 7th is a nice day. So is August 4th. November 18th? Glorious. The year is yours.
Forget resolutions or intentions or whatever Instagram tries to tell you turns you into a “goddess” or some shit. Remember what it feels like to look forward to things. And when that’s hard, take an accounting of everything you have to feel happy and grateful for right now. Cheesy, but mentally effective, I promise you. I find that when things are hard, and have been hard, remembering everything I learned and everything I made it though makes me feel proud. I remember that we get to be here, and what a lucky concept that is in the first place. Looking forward and having hopes for the future are allowed, even in 2020, and certainly in 2021.
If the world is alone on New Year’s Eve, then everybody’s together. Your night can be as loud or as quiet as you need it to be, because it’s yours, but also because literally no one’s looking. Take the time to give yourself exactly what you need on the last night of a year. And toast to the fact that whatever it is, we can handle it. We already have. Happy New Year.
Shani Silver is a writer and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, frequently.