• Emily Win

One Word

Every year it seems I carry a particular word with me, knowing that when the new year comes around, I will look back at my year in the tainted light of this particular word. As literature nerd, I enjoy looking for the connections, the archetypes, the general traceable themes within a set period of time, over the course of life's little chunks. While it may seem limiting or reductive to some, I tend to find it liberating. 

Using the language of the Enneagram, I am confident in my ability to self-renew. I typically apply words like "transformative" or "transition" to years, or even circumstances, that seems too difficult to handle in the moment or too confusing to grasp at the time. In the first few years of my 20s, my words are logged as "change," "adapt, and "growth." I even remember words like "different," "introspective" and "embracing" being high on the list. While none of these words surprised me, they do deeply represent my compulsion to re-label discomfort in the light of moral life lessons. 

Sometimes I look back at a year through the lens of an Ignatian-style Examen. For those unfamiliar, it's traditionally a prayer where you scan through your entire day and recognize the emotional and spiritual movements throughout that specific day. Oftentimes, the prayer ends in gratitude. As I look back through the year, I find that I judge myself for reacting so poorly to things that were totally in my control and things that were most definitely out of my control. The weight of this reaction leaves me lingering through murky healing waters. In the grateful and celebratory first few days of 2020, I feel a sense of 2019's hangover.

On paper, I accomplished almost everything I wanted to do. However, 2019 was a huge year in working through mental and emotional health barriers. There were many days I felt trapped, hopeless, or totally alone. Overall, a shadow of utter "lost"-ness loomed over me. Every day of 2019 felt like starting over. And while I absolutely know I have so much to be thankful for, I can't help but acknowledge that words like "rejuvenating" or "inspiring" don't really cut it. 

As a natural contemplative and introvert, I found all of these barriers to be the icing on the sour cake of inactivity. My biggest mistakes were due to passivity and lack of self-assuredness. Of course, trying to find yourself in a new country definitely doesn't make working on this easy. However, I feel that naming this is already a bright sign for the intense moons of 2020.

All optical jokes aside, I do think I can see my existence in 20/20 with some clarity. I genuinely feel this year holds empowering, uplifting, and life-changing energy. Last year's word may be a sad or angry profanity, but this year's profane word feels like it might have a gleeful exclamation point. 

Just a month ago I set the intention of desiring to be more proactive in my life. Although I still feel in the thick of lost, I can feel the fruits of my desire blossoming out across the months in front me. I still continue to receive rejection letters and still continue to hold off processing 2019. I'm still searching aimlessly for work with purpose and a place to call home. And I'm still trying to figure out how honor myself, my family, and my friends in equal fairness. But I welcome 2020 knowing my values and believing that this knowledge can and will guide me to a place where I can dip my feet in more refreshing waters. 

Even if all of this feeling is a hoax and 2020 leaves me at rock bottom, I will finish it having known that I entered with the skills to take action, decide, and react even when things go poorly. To me, this is more invaluable than making a goals list or recapping the year like a resume. Going into 2020 I really do hope my word is "clarity," or even one of its synonymous cousins like "purpose" or "enlightening."

 If I had one word for this very moment, it would be "hopeful." And I think that may be all I need to work on manifesting these words in small and very significant ways. Happy 2020 everyone. No matter what happens, it feels appropriate to remember that we made it through a pretty wild decade. Congrats and cheers to another roarin' 20s. 

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash