Only Looking Up

March 6, 2024

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day––they passed in a frenzy of glittery necklaces, women in velvety dresses, and loud, golden horns that blasted through midnight. 

I’d spent the last weekend of 2023 reading The Great Gatsby in the guest bedroom of a friend’s house. White sheets, morning light, and pour-over coffee will forever paint that memory of New Years. It’ll also be painted with notes of glimmering black and gold, the vivid blue cover of Gatsby, and green kitchen walls.

The morning after New Year’s Eve is always much quieter; it all moves a little slower, like a car in first gear. January 1st carries the weight of 364 more days. Heavy as that may be, a few days later, I began to consider this in a new light.

I was lying in bed finishing up The Great Gatsby when I glanced at the bulletin board in my room that pins all things special to me. Hoisted on top of it was the glittery silver necklace, the little horn, and a shiny crown that read “Happy New Year!” all of which I rang in 2024 with.

Silently, the items dangled there, juxtaposed by my colorful and loud memory of them. Everyone had laughed that night, kissed at midnight, then stumbled out the front door and into 2024. Now, we’re all back to the grind with our hopes and dreams and resolutions.

I went back to work for the first time last week after New Year’s, and as I exited downtown Greer, city workers were standing on ladders at the lampposts unwinding Christmas garland. 

Just like that, the parties were over. 

It’s hard to relocate the joy of the two-month-long celebration that is Thanksgiving, Christmas, then New Years, especially in the day-to-day grind.

But since January 1st, I’ve found a new contentment with life. There’s a lot of beauty in the unknown––but there’s a lot to know just from trusting God. 

“His will, not mine” is a lingering phrase I find on my left and my right, in front of me and behind me, because I know my story is already written by God. Therefore, it must be good.

I’m writing this column in my warm bed on a Monday night, 11:39 p.m., and the Happy New Year crown, the shiny necklace––they dwell here beside me, hanging on my bulletin board, and I’ve deemed them my reminder that 2024 won’t sting with the pushing and pulling I fought throughout 2023. 

“Blindfolded, walking with arms wide open” is a line I threw out on New Year’s Day, referring to the next 12 months. 

My boyfriend then yelled, “Yes! That’s the gospel! Exactly.”

Frustrated that he was totally right and walking like that is totally uncomfortable, I deemed it another reminder that 2024 shall be, nonetheless, adventurous.  

I close my eyes and envision 2024 in a fresh, purple hue, framed in flowers and tall trees that were only just sprouting last year. 

And hanging there with my New Year’s paraphernalia, an invisible picture that comes with it, framed and nailed to the wall with a permanent crack in the glass that serves as yet another reminder that 2024 is only looking up from here.

M.M. Cochran is the author of YA novel Between the Ocean and the Stars and has an educational background in English and creative writing. She has worked in the journalism industry, as well as the agenting and publishing industry, and she is currently a news reporter for The Greer Citizen. M.M. can be found collecting coffee mugs, slipping into an oversized sweater, and hanging out with her standard poodle. Her debut novel, Between the Ocean and the Stars, can be found online at or To keep up with her writing journey, follow her on Instagram @m.m.cochran_writer.


Featured image by Kateryna Hlizlnitsova.