Your Pain Doesn’t Have to Be Productive

Our New Year doesn’t need to have a transformative outcome.

Dr. Ava Pommerenk
5 min readDec 30, 2020


Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Memes that share about the disorienting, and often painful nature of the days between Christmas and New Years, exist for a reason. They seem to point to a collectively shared experience of pain, simultaneously making us more aware of (and seen in) our humanity, while getting to laugh about it.

Most of us, building up to the New Year, are filled with many feelings in reflection on what we did or did not do, during the year prior. We also realize we spent much of that time, trying to be and feel something other than what was most true in each moment.

In other words, we spent much of the year as though we had blinders on, racing to a finish line.

At this imaginary finish line, there is allegedly a better experience or outcome possible for us, if only we push ourselves forward, or at the very least tolerate or get through, our current state.

We then get to the end of a year, feel deflated, and see we are starting the cycle over again. We feel robbed of the “finish line” we had imagined, when it never comes. To add insult to injury, many of us feel the pain of hangovers and having done a number to our physical health, for the sake of “celebrating” the holidays. We believe we have earned this time to celebrate, as the year was a hard one to get through, and this is just what we should do, right? All of this catches up to us in those final days, of each year, and into the beginning of the following one.

Somehow, in these manic exclamations of “Happy New Year!!!”, we feel a pressure to turn it all around, to make our lives hold a frame of meaning, and to transmute the pain and struggle into a transformative experience. That somehow, transforming this pain into action and a better outcome, will make us better, as a person.

If only we could start that diet and exercise plan on the first of January, to make the year leading up to…



Dr. Ava Pommerenk

Coach. Psychologist. Writing about new perspectives, love, relationships, Narcissism, healing, transformation, & culture.