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Every year, on the 31st of December, the old year and the new are separated by a flimsy second at 23:59:59. For me, not for as long as I remember but as the years piled on and forced me into the 25th anniversary of my existence with an unrelenting hand, that second is the loneliest, saddest, most hateful out of all the 31,536,000 seconds there are in a year.

Being unbearably anxious of nature, that split second shows me, with the precision of German engines and timeliness of Japanese trains, Regrets Of This Year and Fears For The Next. If I watch this mental movie to the end I will be rewarded with a bonus scene of The Dreadful Hereafter, like Marvel minus the marvellous, the superheroes and the flying. In my version, bound not by Hollywood convention but by my own misguided limitations, there is no flying to be had, only supervillains bearing my own face, stopping me at every turn with weapons forged out of my own weakness.

You see, 2017 marks the seventh year since I began university and the third since I left, meaning the lack of sparkly career highlights on my lapel—badges of worthiness in our achievement-oriented world—is constantly telling me, oddly enough in Hugh Grant’s voice, that I’m a bit of a, um, flop, so to speak. And no manner of speech can ever be charming enough to distract me from the sordid fact that my continual existence as the pancake that fell apart on its way from the pan of uni to the table of life really, really sucks. It’s hard to look back on the past year with fondness and toward the new with eager anticipation when you are a pessimistic pancake who’s befriended the kitchen floor, far from the golden plate you were aiming to land on.

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But I mustn’t be so defeatist—it’s terribly middle class winning begins with a positive outlook, not that winning—what does it even mean, a 100K job, 2M house, picture-perfect family and brand-new Range Rover?—is everything in life. Health and happiness rank equal first in that regard. With that in mind, I will set the following goals for 2017 but achieve them at my own pace: try to blog at least once a week, make and share more art, read more, pitch article ideas to publications I admire, keep an eye out for job opportunities, and, most of all, believe in myself and dare to explore, even if it means leaving my comfort zone.

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Those are my ideal goals. If all else should fail, my base goal for the new year, be it as earth-shatteringly awful as the last or more forgiving, is to brave Life as she comes and make the most out of it. Or, as Downton Abbey‘s stately Mr. Carson would surely advise, I will carry on, as I must.

Happy new year, folks. May your 2017 be filled with good health, happiness, love, fulfilment, growth, and discovery.