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How to Feel More in Control of Your Life

Photo: Photo Illustration by Stevie Remsberg/Photo Getty

My resolution for 2019 is to drill more holes. I mean this literally and profoundly, so please get your mind out of the gutter.

I first decided that I needed to drill more holes about a month ago, when I moved into a new apartment and found myself confronted with four freshly painted white walls and some blackout Ikea window blinds. At a hardware store on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, I asked a large, Santa-like man with measuring-tape suspenders for some help.

“Hi,” I said. “I need to drill some holes into walls.”

The man was asleep, so I asked again, only a little louder.

“Hi!” I said. “I need to drill some holes into walls!!!”

He woke up. And then he gave me a thorough, not-at-all condescending, positively life-changing tutorial in power tools. I’m lazy and skilled at making other people to do things for me, so up until that moment, I had avoided knowing a single thing about construction. But thanks to his seminar, I can proudly say that I know what a drill bit is, why you need an anchor, and why people call them “power tools.”

Before then, even the sight of power tools made me nervous. I imagined that they’d spontaneously turn on. (Maybe because of some ghost battery charge? Who knows!) When I finally picked one up, I was still too timid to use it properly. I didn’t put enough weight behind it.

In truth, I also didn’t really want to drill holes into my walls. It seemed disruptive and messy. Why sully a perfect white wall? But then I realized this attitude was the problem.

This year, there were very few moments when I felt powerful and in control. Life on earth felt uncertain. Bubbles were popping left and right. And I was still getting used to my job, which was different every day thanks to our ever-shifting news cycle. I was never, ever home, and yet my lease was up, which meant I needed to find a new one.

When I finally got a new apartment, it became a physical manifestation of all my anxieties. I could no longer locate an understanding of my own taste. I couldn’t tell if I liked anything: the clothes in my closet, the art on my walls, the yellow Ikea chair I bought, then tried to return, and then decided to keep. I knew it was bad when I decided that my “thing” would be “sheep,” and proceeded to buy a sheep-shaped clock, a sheep-shaped end table, and a sheep-shaped planter at 2 a.m.

Drilling holes into walls makes me feel in control of my life and space. When I hold a power tool in my hands, I forget about my phone and everything else going on and focus on making a fucking hole in a fucking wall. I like climbing on top of things and using muscles in my body that I didn’t know I had. And I like hopping down and taking a step back to look at my perfect, beautiful hole in the wall.

The cool thing about holes is that, unlike chairs from Ikea, you can’t take them back. In 2019, I will ask not how to fill them, but how many more I can make.

How to Feel More in Control of Your Life in 2019