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Ellie Balfe On September As The Unofficial New Year

A fresh start before January? What a charming idea...

SEPTEMBER. ALWAYS the real new year in my view. Think I’m bonkers? Well, let me explain.

January, whilst clearly the actual new year, is all a bit of a rush. In a spectacular shock to the system, it lands upon us, fraught with threat and a form of doom, demanding you pay penance for your enjoyment of the season prior. And that’s hardly fair, right?

Jools Holland has barely stopped bellowing Auld Lang Syne on 31 December before deprivation immediately follows depravity, and we collectively give up on all we enjoy – out with booze, out with treats, out with spending, out with our core personalities as we enforce a frugal world view, unrecognisable to our former, festive selves.

So, no, I’m not a supporter of the standard January energy, it’s far too strict and far, far too joyless. And anyway, stats claim that barely any of us stick to our New Year’s resolutions – those promises made whilst deep in a pit of shame – yeah, not for me!

In most things in life, I prefer a gentle run-up to things. I like thinking time and I like to look back and muse on life’s trajectory. These mental meanderings do lead to epiphanies of sorts but tend to be slower gained over time; shock and awe ain’t gonna work ’round here.  

Which brings me to the joy of September...It may be the back to school feeling or the fact that summer has stretched out behind us, full of hazy days, bare legs and long rosé-filled evenings, but something about this transition of seasons just makes me feel more ‘ready’.

I feel attuned to the shift, anticipatory towards newness. I’m looking at the pages of trend reports in this magazine thinking, “Ooh, I love a neutral polo neck”...I am equipped to embrace it.

Unlike January, when I feel as though my hand is forced, when I feel utterly exposed and frankly a little anxious about the long stretch of ‘new year’ ahead of me. The number of unknowns unnerves me.

By September’s arrival, I feel I have it sussed; I have the measure of the year; I’ve worked, I’ve rested, I’ve had time to think. September is my spirit month and I can be excited about what lies ahead.

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Strangely also, I feel far more inclined to make plans and resolutions at this time of year. Or perhaps it’s not strange at all. The back to school rhythm is ingrained in all of us; the time for new books, timetables and sports. Our obligations are circling. Minds are being focused again, mistakes of the year thus far have been wiped clean by summer breaks and we are restored. I feel like I want to join a pilates class, I’m looking up autumnal recipes, thoughts of crunchy apple crumbles pervade my thinking, I’m very drawn to soups...

September holds the natural pace of change whereby we can ease ourselves gently in. Resolutions are more real and any life pivots can be made with the critical analysis that experience affords us. Life reviews seem natural now we’ve lived a bit.

Cutting down on spending is okay. We’ve had a great summer, we can focus on bedding in and accumulating a bit, so we can get to Christmas. It doesn’t feel like hardship; it feels sensible and right.

Starting an exercise plan feels okay too – the summer swims and nighttime walks may die out for now, but training in a gym to build up winter strength feels like a smart thing to start. Sorting the house to hibernation levels of comfort feels correct.

See what I’m doing? I’m making resolutions but ones I’m more than ready for, ones I invite in rather than avoid. Life is moving along at a welcome tempo.

Autumn ushers in a fruitful, mellow season of settling into comforts. Who would we be to deny it? 

Revel in it – buy the polo necks. Happy New Year!

READ MORE: Ellie Balfe On Breaking Up With Her Ideal Self