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New Year, New You? Hmph. Here’s Some Better Advice

In this week's Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader writes in asking for help with his resolutions for the next year.

While 2017 was a flop for most of us, this dear reader feels he really scraped the bottom of the barrel. No good dates. No man. No memories. So he’s asking for help to plan out the new year so 2018 doesn’t look like the last.

If you want his advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!

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Hola Papi!

I know it’s basic as all get out to have New Year’s resolutions. But you seem like the person to ask about these things, so I’m going to lean in anyway.

In 2017, I didn’t find a boyfriend. I didn’t really go on any good dates. I had some good memories, but mostly, Papi, I was a complete flop. The world kind of fell apart too, along with democracy, but let’s focus on what matters here!

Papi, what is your advice for being even gayer, more adventurous, and happier in 2018? What resolutions would you suggest for a better year?

Signed,

Happy New Queer

Hey there, New Queer!

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s. Champagne isn’t really my color, and there’s all this undue stress to have a good time.

Worst of all, December 31st tends to be a day that gets trapped in amber. Everything feels so permanent. If we don’t go out, if we don’t spend the evening among friends, if we’re not having fun, then we’re bound to have a bad year. Because, omens, I suppose.

Meanwhile, everyone you know is posting roundups of their year on social media. Strictly the highlights, of course: trips to exotic places, shout-outs to the boyfriend, shirtless selfies (if they’re self-aware, they couple these with a journey of some kind, a caption saying they still have a long way to go), perhaps some pictures of parties they went to.

So many parties! Where are these parties happening, New Queer, and how have I never seen one in person? Pool parties with bluer-than-blue water, those giant inflatable swans every homosexual has ridden but me. Who takes these pictures? It’s always such an affair in my world, getting someone to take a picture. And yet, here they aremid-leap, hovering over the pool, sunglasses on, swim trunks perfectly positioned to show off legs and bulge, an image of perpetual happiness.

Do these people ever get sad? Do they ever get bored? Do they ever get jealous? Surely they must, but it’s difficult to imagine.

Let’s imagine things anyway: Behind you, it’s possible, is an underwhelming, inadequate year of lukewarm half-relationships, meh-inducing hookups, some goals you didn’t quite reach, and some you did, and maybe they weren’t everything you wanted them to be, or maybe they were.

And then, in front of you, all the things you want to do, an abstract outline of who you could become if you dig in your pumps and put your mind to it: adhere to a diet, sweat enough, go to the right events, and meet the right people.

This is all hypothetical, of course, because we’re dealing with intangibles. Your past can’t be changed. Your future isn’t right here in front of you. That’s what’s so frustrating about New Year’s, at least to me. Nothing is real, but everyone is insisting it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

We find ourselves in the startling middle of it all, a little too conscious of the passing of time to be comfortable. Many cultures consider this a holiday, by the way. That’s nuts!

On the other hand, it does present us with the opportunity to reflect and to set goals. Let’s take you, for example. You want to be gayer. You want a boyfriend. You want to be more adventurous.

Do these things have shape? Can you see your boyfriend’s face? What color is his hair? What does it mean to be gayer? Will you find yourself clubbing in the early hours of the morning more often? Will it be something you’re wearing, or something you’re feeling? Is it a place?

I think that’s the issue with this whole thing, New Queer. Days like these make us see everything as a matter of moments: Moments ahead, moments behind, frozen and definite, everything boiled down to the highs and the lows.

And you will have those in 2018. Sad moments, happy moments, sunlit and rainy, frustrated and overjoyed, moments where you suffer and moments where it’s OK. It won’t all be in equal measure, but it will be there, because life breathes, and it moves, and so do you.

In that spirit, I have no resolutions for you. But I do have an ask, if you’re open to it.

I ask that you don’t try too hard to get those moments you’re jealous of, the moments you want to have because someone else had them, and you think having them made them happy: a picture with a boyfriend you haven’t met, a party you haven’t attended and weren’t invited to, a body you don’t live in.

They’re not yours, and they’re not real.

What’s real is the stuff in between, the stuff that gets cut out of stories because it’s boring and doesn’t photograph well. The living with yourself, the way you see the world as you move through it, the people you surround yourself with. You don’t “have” these things. You inhabit them.

What I mean is, to practice contentment right now is a more worthwhile exercise than making a list of goals. If you can figure out how to do that, the rest will fall into place.

Papi.


JP Brammer

John Paul Brammer writes the Hola Papi! advice column at INTO. His work has appeared in NBC News, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, and more. He is working on his first novel.

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