I feel bad for January.
Being the first month of the Gregorian calendar must be tough. There is so much pressure from everyone to be good, to provide insight, and to uplift.
We think that we have to deal with January, when, in fact, January has to deal with us.
To college students, January is stressful. If you are in your last year, you are probably considering what to do once you breach the protective shield of the canyon and the cliffs. If you are in your first year, you are probably wondering how to make the most of your remaining time as a part of the youngest members of campus. If you are somewhere in between, you are probably praying for summer or an internship or both.
January tries so hard to be good to us. It is more than just a “free trial” month, it provides us with paint, brushes, and a blank canvas. We either dump all the paint on the canvas at once, expecting the excess to help manifest our vision, or don’t use it at all, probably out of fear. January, then, has to sit and wait for us to get our lives together.
But sometimes there is beauty in the mess and in the emptiness. The mess can show our resolve; though we put on too much at once, we still did something. The emptiness expresses our patience, or willingness to let things come when they do, instead of forcing it.
January allows us to center our expectations, reorganize resources, and cut off unnecessary ornaments (inanimate and animate) the inhibit our growth. Without January, there is no context with which we can compare the rest of the year. January is a marker we can use to pinpoint shifts in understandings, relationships, bank account balances, etc.
This particular January, though, was rough. I imagine it as a hobbit, nervously scarfing down its third breakfast as it approaches Mordor, fearful of what the dark overlay of smoke and rocks will do to its spirit. (I will not apologize for that Lord of the Rings reference.)
Depending on what side of social media you’re on, or what news source you use, you may have seen different events that took place this January. At the start of the month, at least in my Twitter sphere, the biggest hot take surrounded the rise of Time’s Up, the legal defense fund that seeks to dismantle structures of oppression and victims of sexual assault, which launched January 1st. At the end of the month, it was the Black Panther premiere at Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on January 29th.
The in-between consisted of:
- Favorites like SZA and Cardi B being nominated for Grammys and losing all of them
- Jeff Bezos being named the richest man on Earth
- Bitcoin becoming the next best thing to kryptonite
- The government shutting down
- The government reopening
- The push for Oprah to run for president
- Lorde being sued for canceling her performance in Israel
And so much more.
Despite all that January lived through, it trudged on, able to pass the baton to February by the sweat of its brow.
Now January can lay down, close its eyes, and take in the beam of light the full moon casts on its face. Wrapped up in blankets, it’s lulled to sleep, exhausted by the energy it exerted.
Here’s to hoping that as we meet February, despite how short it is, we can learn to take in all the effort it gives us. It has to lever the weight January carried for us, so the least we can do is try.
Amarachi Metu is an Arts and Culture staff writer for The Triton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.