New Year’s Eve is by many considered as the party of the year. Fireworks and drunkeness can be considered the collective rite of passage. But me? I declined.
Since I can remember I’ve always been a NYE fanatic. I loved the smell of fireworks, being together with loved ones, the shows on television, counting the seconds, wishing each other “happy new year”. It’s truly a special moment and I carry a lot of warm memories of this celebration.
When I got a bit older I threw some alcohol in the mix. A glass of champagne or beer truly opened a whole new dimension; especially when I started to extend the night on one of these fancy, overly crowed New Year parties where everyone got completely shit-faced. Great times.
When the 2019 approached I decided to do something completely different: spending NYE by myself at home. I’d like to give you my 4 reasons why I did it and tell you if I’ll ever do it again.
(1) Avoiding crazy, drunken violence
For me New Year’s Eve was the pre-eminent moment to drink myself into oblivion. It’s not a surprise first of January was chronically dominated by the biggest hangovers I have ever experienced in my life.
The evenings leading up to that hangover I barely remember to be honest. But I have some shameful, vague memories of myself walking naked on the streets. Other memories are extraordinary bright. Probably because I took XTC.
It’s kind of insane if you think about it. Every year we come up with a list of new year’s resolutions. “Drinking less, eating less, being a bit more kind to one another,” yet we start out by doing exactly the opposite. Insanity, I know. Why not start today with those resolutions you have in mind?
Also, from my experience, the nights in the city center are the wildest during NYE. And I don’t mean in the positive sense. If I look closer at all the violent incidents that happen during that night I get the idea that NYE is the most dangerous time of the year.
Truly, there are people out there that start the new year with stabbing, raping and even murdering another person. I assume those deeds are not there new year’s resolutions, and I can’t imagine that you wake up happy the next day realizing you started the new year like a savage by drinking too much or snorting cocaine.
By spending NYE in solitude I assured myself that I would not be part of that madness, which I experienced as a great thing (a bit boring, though).
(2) Reflection and preparation
New Year’s Eve is a ritual. And rituals are man-made constructs that serve a certain purpose. What’s the purpose of NYE? Very simple: sealing one time period and entering another.
There are different ways to approach this ritual. One way is by and doing it with a bang (pun intended). The other way is by reflection and preparation. Conventionally we celebrate it together because it’s fun, cozy and a great opportunity to be with your loved ones. Especially the moment that we give each others hugs and kisses is, at least for me, a vital part of the ritual.
That said, I think that NYE is a perfect time to reflect on past events and make plans for the future as well. When the clock turned to 0:00 I sat on a chair and saw millions of euros worth of fireworks going up in the sky. I thought about past year, about my friendships, relationships with family, my current situation as a single man and also about the work I want to do in 2019.
I must say that this was a horrible experience. It’s not fun. And that’s the whole point. Normally I would be tipsy at this point and distracted by social interaction, television shows and music. This time it was just me sitting in a dark kitchen on the third floor of my appartment building watching fireworks. Also, I turned off my smartphone. There was no place to run and at that moment all sorts of dark, depressing thought came to the surface.
(3) A fresh start of the new year
It surprised me how fresh and – in a strange way – relieved I woke up the next moring on January 1st around 9AM. Usually it’s noisy outside but the silence was strikingly serene. I realized that everyone was lying in bed hungover.
I hopped out of bed and made myself a nice breakfast. Because it’s a national holiday I treated myself to a day of watching some interesting YouTube talks and tutorials. In the afternoon I cleaned my apartment and sorted out the mountain of clothes in my bedroom and worked on some business plans.
When you stay at home on NYE (and stay sober) you invest in whole day to take good care of yourself and your living environment. It’s great to start the new year fresh and energized.
Usually I would go to bed around 6AM in the morning (sometimes even later) on January 1st and would wake up in afternoon completely sick by the alcohol and cigarettes. This stinks. Literally.
I mean: how can you possibly consider waking up in your own vomit a positive start of the new year?
Bingo. You cannot.
The fresh start of the new year was the greatest reward of staying home during NYE. Especially when you’re prone to drinking too much; you’ll be so thankful to yourself the next morning.
If you don’t get too bother by the fear of missing out, staying at home during NYE is a very rewarding experience. But beware: it’s not a fun experience.
I thought sitting at home alone watching the fireworks behind a window, seeing how groups of people come outside on the streets celebrating together is depressing. I experienced a huge disconnect. But it gave me a moment of true reflection.
Also, it made me think that there are many other people who are home alone (not by choice) and people that are in pain. When I thought about this, I felt connected again but in a different way to different people.
The next day was fanastic. Fresh, fit and alive.
Will I ever do it again? Definitely. But the next time I think I’ll celebrate NYE. I realized that I’m a very lucky person to have friends and family that I can celebrate with, so next time I will seize the opportunity to do that if I can.