It’s that time of the year when many begin reflecting on the end of the year and thinking about what they want in the next year. Since my birthday is in the middle of November, I often start my new word of the year around then while still finishing out the current year’s word. I need 13 1/2 months to get it right!
It all started with a little POSITIVITY
I began choosing a word of the year in 2016 when I was struggling with life and college. The word that year was POSITIVITY. In 2017, I had FIVE words, one for the year (Peace) and a word for each quarter (Focus, Enjoy, Shine, Passion), that was an odd year but the words fit as I graduated from undergrad, was prepping for the GRE and began to work full time and had a 20th Anniversary Celebration to prepare. While I liked having multiple words, it was a lot to keep up with so in 2018, I went back to a single word, which was BALANCE I started graduate school in the fall, was working full time, and trying to do it all.
Experience: An Emotional Year
For 2019 I chose EXPERIENCE because I turned 25 at the end of 2018 and wanted to experience life. My idea has been new concerts, travel, and other fun things. Life however does not go as planned, and I lost my dad on Monday, June 18, 2019. The experiences turned into grief, struggles, and pretending to be ok. It became me throwing myself so deep into work and school that I was exhausted and angry more often than not.
I remember sitting in the office at work complaining about how much I hated Christmas and was ready for it to be over. My monthly overview in my planner was so full that I was sick of looking at it. I got sick on Christmas day and stayed sick past St Patrick’s Day (I fully believe I was an early case of COVID-19). I took 3 courses of antibiotics and many OTC medicines, and I lost my voice twice to the point I couldn’t even answer the phone at work or talk to customers.
My 2020 word of the year was BRAVE, which really is ironic because I had to be brave as the world went on lockdown, brave as a was laid off from a job I had worked since I was 15, and brave on the first anniversary of my dad’s passing. Brave was graduating with a master’s degree in the middle of a pandemic and shutdown where the job market was basically zilch. Brave was facing the loss of everything I had spent the previous year working towards.
Possibility of realizing my Potential
2021 was the year of POSSIBILITY. I wanted to find a full-time job, which I did even though it did not use my degree. I loved that job and my coworkers, but part of me struggled with going to school for so long, and the student loans I had accumulated in the process, to not have a job in my field. Which is part of how my 2022 word of the year became POTENTIAL. When I was trying to choose my 2021 word I was torn between POSSIBILITY and POTENTIAL. While the definitions are so similar, how I approached them was different. The possibility was being open to whatever came my way and making the best of it, while the potential was about exploring my potential as a person and in my career.
In typical Laney fashion, potential became a little bit too on point. I left a good job that I enjoyed, but that wasn’t in my field, for one that was in my field but didn’t fulfill me. I spent 6 months in a role that just wasn’t the right fit for me and that really took a toll on my mental health. The struggle was real as I battled with expectations versus reality, especially after spending years in college and going to graduate school and the career path I was on wasn’t working for me.
I made the hard decision to leave at the end of October and finished out my two weeks, then hopped on a cruise the next day. Want to feel 100% disconnected? Get on a ship with limited connection to the outside world.
I came back from the cruise to a garage full of boxes, and a room that needed to be put back together after we ripped up the old flooring. My room felt like a physical representation of my life. Boxes full of my clothes, books, and possessions. Stacks of things mixed together with no order. Everything was mismatched and out of place.
But I took the weekend to sort and put it all back together, then on Monday, I began working nearly full-time at my retail job. My saving grace has been this retail job, it got me through grad school, losing my dad, a pandemic, and a career shift. I feel my best and happiest in a store full of bright colors.
Discovery: Not just a space shuttle
So why did I choose the word DISCOVERY for 2023? Turning 29 has made me super reflective and honestly, I have been feeling like I am just floating through space. I also watched a documentary about space on Disney+ so space references and metaphors are heavy in my mind.
I spent the last decade being a decent student, working hard at multiple jobs, hustling and bustling through life. But here I am at 29 without a full-time job and no idea who I am when I am not a student or outside of my career. The idea that your job or career is not a personality trait really resonates with me lately, but the question is “who am I then?” and I can’t answer it.
Discovery, noun: the action or process of discovering or being discovered.
I was having dinner with someone and mentioned choosing a word of the year. They jokingly suggested discovery, but it stuck. When I’m afraid of a new situation or idea, I remind myself I am working to discover something about myself.
I’m also diving into dating, something I never made time or room for in the last decade. Dating, in general, is awkward and it really hits on the “Who am I?” question, because I am having to introduce myself to new people constantly. It has been a real adventure and I’m not lacking new stories.
“Hi, I’m 29, love cats, quit my job recently, and work retail for the holiday. Oh, I also have 2 degrees and a car payment.” – not my real bio, but definitely the most truthful.
Fact: Writing a bio for dating is worse than writing a cover letter for a job.
Speaking of jobs, I have come to the realization that dating and job hunting are basically the same experience at the core. Both can be a bit daunting and exhausting with applying for jobs/messaging matches on apps. I’ve gained some perspective and had some fun along the way.
What do I like to do when I’m not at work?
Who do I want to become?
Where do I want to be in five years?
What are five good things about me?
I have a list of questions I am working on to answer at the start of 2023 and then revisit at the end to see the differences.
It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me
I’ll leave y’all with the eternal words of the greatest singer/songwriter of my generation, Ms. Taylor Swift. Her album MIDNIGHTS has been on repeat for nearly two months and per usual it perfectly resonates with the state of my life right now.
I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser
Midnights become my afternoons
When my depression works the graveyard shift
All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room
~Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift
Word of the Year Recap:
- 2016 – Positivity
- 2017 – Peace (Focus, Enjoy, Shine, Passion)
- 2018 – Balance
- 2019 – Experience
- 2020 – Brave
- 2021 – Possibility
- 2022 – Potential
- 2023 – Discovery