This is one of the cases where the name contains the true meaning; like literally con your life into believing it could be something else.
Retroactive continuity (retcon) is a literary device often used to say ‘Hey, we screwed up but here’s everything in a completely new light just to mess with you’.
Sometimes it’s a major re-imagining of pivotal characters like Alan Moore’s Joker in The Killing Joke or just the equivalent of a girl giving herself a perm for one day as is often the case with sitcoms. From ground-breaking to campy they have long since been a crucial part of pop culture.
‘Reinventing yourself’ I feel, is sometimes, almost a parody of retconning. Not everybody will be happy with it; it might get panned and be reviled in equal measure and the producers (parental units) are definitely going to give you a lot of grief about it.
But sometimes, life can derail and not be the same as the story you had envisioned. When this happens, some people choose to find familiar patterns to stick to in their lives, much like when TV shows try to find their niche crowd, quietly enjoying comfortable success. But the others try that elusive technique of successfully making something new which remains faithful to its origins. This could be an utter disaster (Ghostbusters) or beautifully preserved (Doctor Who); which brings me to the whole concept of ‘reinventing your own life.
To be honest, it doesn’t feel nearly as high stakes as altering a classic character backstory. Because, we all know the majority of the ‘new year new me’ stuff doesn’t last long. Sure it’s a nice idea to ‘start a spin class’. But once you realize how expensive yoghurt smoothies are, you’re back to lazing around on the couch with your cat the rest of the year.
However, I have a half-baked solution to this. One common trope of retconning is the practice of showing already established events from a new perspective. This doesn’t change what happened or how we feel about those events, but does give a deeper understanding and appreciation of the characters. In the same way that getting a pet, eating healthy or concentrating on your work is not suddenly going to change your core character, but instead, make you achieve a new perspective on things and provide marked additions to subtly enhance your personality and attitude.
So this year, why not do the same things you’ve been doing (let’s face it we are pretty much stuck with our habit repertoire at this time) but do them in an entirely new way. I for one, will not be mourning the failure of all the ‘too ideal’ resolutions but instead be grateful for this world and the people around and the experiences that changed me, for better or for worse.
In popular culture, retconning has toppled god level beings and made despicable characters humane. Giving second chances is way underrated. This year, I plan on having a surprisingly tender moment with someone I hate; my life will be like a TV show goddammit.
P.S. Yes, I procrastinate so much that I have published my new year post on march.