Forget about the usual resolutions, my friends: Forget about losing 15 pounds, alphabetizing your underwear, or whatever else youre half-heartedly promising yourself youll do this year.
Face facts: You dont need to lose 15 pounds because if youre over 45 the only people looking at you closely are other women over 45, and all theyre thinking is Do I look like her from the back?
And unless guests need to wear hazmat masks when they step into your foyer, your house is probably clean enough. Stop watching Hoarders and telling yourself youre out of control if you have more than three pairs of unmatched socks or havent done the dishes since this morning. Or yesterday.
We need real resolutions; we need to change things, small and large, that matter. For women everywhere, therefore, I would like to offer the following New Years Resolutions of Things We Will Not Say in 2013:
1. Oh, its only me! Stop putting the word only in front of yourself as something to hide behind, like a veil or a fan, as if its girlie-cutesy. Such behavior turns out to be neither adorable nor feminine but is instead annoying, unnecessary and self-deprecating in the worst possible way. Only You is a great oldies song, but automatically saying Its only me is no way for a grown-up to talk about herself.
2. I just wanted to say that Thats another automatic apology that has got to go. Just say what it is you just want to say. Dont preface it with a 13-second introduction: spit it out, honey.
3. Its fine. Dont worry about me. Ill be OK with it, even though its not what Id originally planned or anything. Lets make 2013 the year we leave our evil friend, Passive Aggressive Whiner, in the dust. If you dont want to accept something, make your no emphatic and take responsibility for your action. If you are willing to be flexible, then do it without feeling sorry for yourself. But no more grumbling Why am I always the one who gets stuck doing this when others get their own way?
4. No, really, theyre very comfortable. Youre kidding, right? Have you seen platform high-heeled shoes? They look like they were designed for The Spanish Inquisition. I have seen perfectly sane adult women swaying in gusty breezes because they have lost the ability to balance themselves.
5. This has got to change. But what can I do? Im only one person. We all have our own version of a significant issue thats too overwhelming, too intimidating, and apparently too far away from our own sphere of influence to do anything except break our hearts or make us furious and frustrated.
Every woman has a this keeping her up at night: the rights for girls to be educated wherever they live; violence against those who can least protect themselves; the systematic exploitation by some corporations of the environment; the plight of abused animals. We wring our hands and break our hearts, believing ourselves powerless. That is the first thing that needs to change.
Again, we have to take away the word only. We have to turn the phrase Im one person into a battle cry and a cheer of encouragement.
Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut, a feminist scholar who has written eight books, and a columnist for the Hartford Courant.
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