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Amy Roberts: The pettiness of a new decade

For me, resolutions are a bit like dating.

There are usually signs of promise and potential at the beginning, but after a few weeks of a solid C+ effort, I’m exhausted and resign to just sleeping with the laundry I’ve been too lazy to fold. Most of the time, my efforts to both start and keep a resolution amount to little more than throwing a penny in a fountain, contemplating a wish and pretending I’ve done all I can to put the wheels in motion.

But this year I gave the idea of setting a New Year’s resolution a longer pause — because it’s not just another year, it’s also another decade. I don’t know if that means anything really, but it feels a little more substantial than the last nine — like that fountain deserves a quarter tossed into it this year. Which, I suppose, can be interpreted in one of two ways: Either I’m putting 25 times more energy into the charade for 2020, or I’m still ¾ shy of anything that could resemble something of value. Considering I recently created a daily 8 a.m. appointment on my calendar that said, “put on shoes,” it’s likely the latter. I know checking footwear off my to-do list is not an actual accomplishment, but that’s kind of where I am right now.

Obviously, the beginning of a new decade deserves a loftier goal than committing to wear shoes, but I found myself at a loss last week as I tried to write down what I hope to change/fix/drop/or do between now and December of 2029. So for insight, I consulted the experts. Having spent the last week with my immediate family, all of whom are usually quite happy and quick to point out my flaws, I decided there was no better focus group to help me decided what bad habits I should aim to drop for this decade.

The consensus: I need to stop being so petty.”

I expected to get a list of their frequent grievances – my dad would be a fan of me committing to save more money, my mom would likely request I drive slower, swear less, and visit more. My sister’s list would be the longest — and tailored to fit her ever-changing needs. But surprisingly, the lofty goals I assumed they’d make for me didn’t top their wish list. And what did, gave me a bit of chuckle. The consensus: I need to stop being so petty.

Admittedly, this is not a personality flaw I am particularly attuned to. Sure, I have creative ways of besting someone, or pointing out their annoying habits or hypocrisy, but I’ve always found this type of vindication personally gratifying, not trivial.

“You chose a college to get back at your high school boyfriend,” my mom helpfully reminded me. My then-17-year-old broken heart was determined to help him realize the mistake he had made. So I applied to the same universities he did, and then decided to attend one he didn’t get into.

“I have my own Netflix account because of your pettiness,” my sister informed me. “I was logged into your account for months and started binge-watching ‘Ozark.’ We got in an argument in the second season. You let me continue to watch all of the episodes and then changed your password right before I got to the season finale.”

Even my dad chimed in, reminding me of the time I had an English roommate and every time I was upset with her about something, I would look her dead in the eye and proceed to make tea in the microwave. “You casually committed British blasphemy every time she forgot to take out the trash,” he told me.

While I tend to consider these examples karma rather than spite, it appears as though I need to devote this decade to learning the difference.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.


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