Toronto
2 min

Stepping out, stepping up

Another year, another list of New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like me then the list doesn’t change all that much from year to year: Do stuff, spend less money, take better care of myself and the people around me.

I’m more of a back-to-school-resolutions girl myself. It’s asking an awful lot to imagine that folks (at this latitude anyway) will get up the energy to commit to much of anything this time of year. But maybe that’s why New Year’s resolutions are important — they give us a kick in the ass when we most need it.

Between feeling like you’re drowning in holiday debt (or just trying to stay ahead of the economic downturn), the atrocious weather and the lethargy brought on by short days and long nights there may be nothing you feel like doing more than hunkering down and hibernating until spring.

Fight the urge. Your queer social scene needs you. Your community organizations need you. If everyone’s hiding out at home, it’s tough to get the kind of critical mass that makes for a good time on a Saturday night or a successful community event. Plus the winter will pass more quickly if you’re engaged with the world beyond your couch and computer screen.

If money is the issue, and for many of us that really is the kicker post-holidays, then keep an eye out for events with no or low cover. Between cheap club nights, pay-what-you-can performances and sponsored events there’s almost always something on that isn’t going to force you to cut into your grocery money in order to maintain a healthy social life.

January is also a month for quick and dirty house parties ’cause they let us see all the friends and chosen family that we didn’t manage to shoehorn in during the whirlwind of the December holidays. Feeling disconnected? Make the first move and invite folks to yours. A Facebook invitation and a case of beer will do it. With the memory of so much forced hospitality still fresh in our minds most folks will appreciate something cheap and cheerful.

Alternatively consider volunteering as a way to get involved and stay involved through the long winter months. It generally costs nothing but your time and can lead to no end of fun and fulfilling social interactions. (Did I mention the dating possibilities? Volunteering is a great way to meet folks who aren’t already a part of your social circle but share similar values and interests.)

Moreover it just might allow an organization to provide programs or services it wouldn’t be able to otherwise. After all individuals aren’t the only ones feeling the financial pinch. Although it isn’t a given that donations will be down during tough economic times (there’s always the possibility that those who can afford to will step up their contributions, knowing that the need is greater — hint, hint) it certainly is likely.

Eager to volunteer but not sure where to start? Check out Xtra’s community Xtensions listings for just a fraction of worthwhile organizations or search online for a group that fits with your interests. Don’t be shy. Call them up or drop them an email to find out what they need.

Here’s a resolution to add to your list for the new year: Go to at least one event that you wouldn’t normally check out and make one new acquaintance (online doesn’t count). It doesn’t sound like much, but my hunch is that once you try it just might get a taste for it.