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How to Think for Yourself in 2024

Whistleblower Jamie Reed on the courage to change your mind. Ryan Holiday on saving his family from the algorithm. Plus: Rob Henderson and your resolutions.

Happy New Year. To start 2024, we bring you a parting reflection on 2023, from someone who had an eventful 12 months. 

Jamie Reed was a case manager at the Washington University Transgender Clinic who came to The Free Press to blow the whistle on what she called “the appalling medical treatment of minors with gender dysphoria.”

Her story was published in February, and immediately sparked a national conversation, leading to an investigation by the Missouri attorney general and the state’s ban on gender transition of minors. It also made life a bit hard for Jamie. As a progressive queer woman married to a transman, she was called by many on the left a traitor, accused of being brainwashed or paid off by the right. But in truth, Jamie simply realized she had been wrong. 

Admitting this fact took great courage, which she revealed in a speech last November. We felt her remarks—about questioning authority, even if it’s the deeply held beliefs of one’s own political party—were an important reminder of our own mission, both as journalists and as citizens. So we’re starting the year by publishing an edited version of her speech in the hope it inspires you, too. 

Still casting around for a New Year’s resolution? Here’s a simple idea from Ryan Holiday: stop posting pictures of your children on the internet. In our second story today, he explains why he and his wife stick to that rule, even though he is a parenting blogger with hundreds of millions of views across his social media accounts and YouTube. 

Ryan argues that turning your family into content for social media leads to some very bad behavior (most shocking: a mother who forced her son to “look sad” for a video about the death of their dog). Ryan’s view? The only way to win is not to play. 

Read his full argument here: 

Rob Henderson did not have an easy childhood. As Honestly listeners will recall, he grew up in a foster home in Los Angeles and enlisted in the military at 17. He went on to obtain degrees from Yale and Cambridge, where, as he writes in his piece for us today, he was likely “the only one of my classmates who was living out of garbage bags at age seven and smoking weed at age nine.”

Rob turned 34 recently, but says he has lived “as much life as someone considerably older.” To start 2024, he offers 34 lessons for 34 years.

Read them here: 

From the comments. . . 

When we revealed The Free Press team’s resolutions for 2024 on Saturday, we asked you to share your own. Boy, did you deliver—not just your resolutions, but advice for all of us on how to stick to ours. 

A lot of you are worried about my knees (so am I) as I embark on Operation Dunk, aiming to slam-dunk a basketball by the end of the year. Even more of you want to set your sons up on a date with Suzy. And everyone seems to agree with Margi that we should all be reading more and, per Bari, spending less time on our phones. 

Some other recurring themes: none of you are excited about what 2024 holds in terms of domestic and international politics. (I don’t blame you!) Who knew that quitting biting your nails is so difficult? (Olivia, be sure to scour the comments for lots of detailed advice.) And a large contingent of you are with Nellie, who has decided to focus on “keep on keeping on.”

Good luck to Rachael Varca, who plans to serialize a novel on Substack this year. 

And to Maureen, who plans on spending more time at her piano than on her iPad. 

“Stunted Gen Xer” writes: “I want to eat more mushrooms this year, and not the psychedelic type but the food ones. They have all the essential amino acids. Not lying. Truly is my resolution. Next year is going to be friggin wild. Need the energy.” 

We loved Faith’s entry: “I made my resolution early this year. In October I vowed to be less angry, sad, and political. To that end, I got Daisy, a three-month-old puppy. She’s as apolitical as they come. She forces me to walk a few miles a day and she always has a smile on her face.”

Sam will be spending 2024 “restoring three Volvo 240s,” reading books “that have nothing to do with restoring Volvo 240s,” and remembering to “look at my beautiful wife of 43 years and remind myself that I scored.”  

Jen Kraft has a resolution everyone should follow: “Read less New York Times and more Free Press.”

So does Melody Bishop, who vows to “read Nellie’s new book as soon as it lands on my doorstep.” 

Pre-order it now, folks!

Gordy Halverson has some advice for Suzy, whose resolution is to get engaged by the end of the year: “If you want to find a good guy, go to where the good guys are. Temple events, weddings, workout gyms (the workout machines. . . ask for advice), a fishing class in Colorado, golf lessons, church league mixed softball, pickleball class, upscale grocery produce sections. Take your time ordering the pizza. Sushi bars are good. Wear make-up and smile a lot. Show some leg. Do three of these a week and you should be engaged by fall.” 

Finally, a shout-out to two readers who, like me, are pursuing specific sporting goals in 2024. 

Russell, 56, is aiming to lift “a combined 1,000 pounds on the squat, bench press, and deadlift.” That sounds hard, Russell. Good luck.   

Tom writes: “At almost 78, I’m pretty sure I’m a lot older than you so I won’t be attempting to dunk a basketball. Instead, I’m going for a 10-minute mile. Never been a runner so this is a challenge for me. Today my walk/slightly jog is about 15 [minutes]. So cutting off 30 seconds per month will exceed my goal. Last year the goal was to swim 3/4 of a mile. In August I hit a mile. Stay tuned.” 

We believe in you, Tom. Let us know how you get on. 

To start your new year right, become a Free Press subscriber today:

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