I love choosing a Word of the Year for the year ahead. I’ve done the Word of the Year for the last several years, and find using it as an intention really helps me focus.
As we head into 2021, I want to share this year’s Word of the Year, reflect on last year, and set a few goals for the year ahead as well.
A Quick 2020 Reflection
I didn’t hate 2020.
It was a weird year.
When the calendar flipped from 12/31/29 to 1/1/20, I felt pretty positive about the year ahead. I would find out in a few months if I got into grad school, had plans to travel abroad. None of them were concrete, but I was leaning towards a return trip to Paris, perhaps a first adventure to Colombia, maybe both, and definitely a trip to Boston to see Taylor Swift’s Lover Festival.
Then the world shut down – on 3/13/20 for me, aptly Friday the 13th. I found out I got into Chapman and AFI’s MFA programs that day, too. I remember walking the mile or so from my office to the mailbox to drop a few handwritten cards in the mail, practically skipping despite the cloudy weather. At that point, I had a USC acceptance and Chapman’s came while I was walking. I was thrilled about being told to work from home for the next “two to three weeks” and ecstatic I had grad school options when I thought I wouldn’t get in anywhere.
Later that afternoon, I got my AFI acceptance while sitting at a stoplight on my way to the gym. I celebrated while I trained, still gunning to qualify for a national meet. I had another week of training before the gym was forced to shut down and I had to move my workouts to my small apartment.
The first couple of months of quarantine were good to me. I thrive in a work from home environment and I found myself being more productive, having more time to do things I loved (like writing), and getting my apartment oh so organized. I celebrated my birthday (April 8th) in quarantine, interviewed with LMU a few days after Easter and got accepted that same night, just two days after submitting a $300 deposit to secure my spot at USC. I ended up at LMU (an excellent choice!) and went into the summer excited for classes to start, even though they would be online and I would be in Chapel Hill six months longer than planned.
The summer was rough, and not just because we had no pool access all summer long. There was another wrist injury, a stubborn kidney stone that’s still floating around in there, h.pylori which caused an ulcer and several months of healing. My health anxiety and general anxiety skyrocketed (I call it my “delayed COVID response”) so I started talk therapy. I hired Rachel as a life coach and slowly but surely found level ground again.
And now, I write this from my dad’s couch in Virginia. The few things I still own are crammed into my vehicle and I’ll start the cross-country drive to Los Angeles tomorrow. Jokes on me that I thought waiting six months would surely mean COVID would be a thing of the past by the time I arrived in the land of palm trees and sunsets. L.A. is the current COVID epicenter.
My word for 2020 was ‘Yes.’ I didn’t say the kind of ‘yeses’ I was anticipating, but I said ‘yes’ all the same. Yes to growth. Yes to being uncomfortable. Yes to accepting both what I could change and what I couldn’t. Yes to a career change, to a program that wasn’t the USC I was hellbent on when the year began. I said ‘yes’ to a lot of Zoom calls with friends, to embracing long walks, to freelance opportunities, some of which worked out, some of which didn’t. ‘Yes’ to leaning into my intuition and letting that connection strengthen.
I also learned to say ‘no.’ No to Zoom happy hours after a long day of Zoom meetings. ‘No’ to people, places, and things that didn’t serve me. ‘No’ when I simply didn’t want to. I learned the power of boundaries, how to place them, how to maintain them.
2020 was a Year of Yes. It was also a Year of No.
I’m happy with both the yeses and the no’s I said.
2021’s Word of the Year
I always let my spirit guide me to my word of the year. Sometimes it’s quick, other times it takes its sweet time. This year, it came to me a few days before the end of 2020, inspired by Kailey Dickerson’s Instagram post.
My word for 2021 is ‘Settled.’
Settled in Los Angeles, in a new apartment, a new community. Settled in my own skin, in who I am, in what I want. Settled in a world that likes to throw chaos at us hard and fast. I liken it to a hurricane – the eye is calm while winds and rain swirl and thrash around it.
I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s Resolutions – see Instagram for my thoughts on that – but I do like to make a few yearly goals. I took a look at my 2020 goals and realized I didn’t do all that bad despite the pandemic. I didn’t qualify for the American Open Series (they didn’t have it anyway) or start a podcast. I didn’t learn about art history despite having the time to do so and I only managed 18 books instead of the 24 I set out for. I did take a few one off virtual classes though and I certainly cultivated connections albeit in a way I never expected. My coaching business did grow – here’s to even more growth in 2021! – and I certainly took a risk. I think we all did.
Goals for 2021.
Read 24 Books
Yep, putting this one back on the list for the third year running. I started a book club to hold me accountable (join here – our first book is The Midnight Library!) and my goal is to read two books a month, one of which will be a classic. I picked up Pride and Prejudice a couple of days ago to start things off. Can you believe I’ve never read it? I was too busy burying my nose in Faulkner.
Grow My Coaching Business
This will be a forever goal, but one of my highlights of 2020 was coaching women to happier, healthier versions of themselves. It’s as much a passion of mine as writing and storytelling and I’ve put a lot of heart into it these last couple of months of 2020 in particular. I’m hopeful I can make an even bigger impact on women’s lives in 2021.
Launch My Project
This is vague as hell, but I’ve had an idea in the back of my mind for ages and the time finally feels right. I’ve spent the last three days strategizing and plotting. I want an empire and you don’t build an empire by sitting still. As soon as I come up with a name (goodness naming stuff is hard…), you’ll know about it.
I’m a good cook if I do say so myself, but after battling with my gut health for the last few months, I absolutely have to be gluten and dairy free now, doctor’s orders. No more being casual about it. That means my recipes need tweaking and new ones need to be found. I get stuck on eating the same things over and over and given that I’ll need to buy basically a whole new kitchen upon arrival in Los Angeles, it feels like a good time to experiment in the kitchen, too.
Find A New Gym
I’ve been in maintenance mode for months and I am tired of maintenance mode. I like working out hard. I like lifting weights. I know gyms are still in a weird place, but I’m oh so ready to get back into rigorous workouts several times a week instead of my at-home/in the gym hybrid situation as of late. Plus, gyms can offer a great way to make new friends. There’s a CrossFit gym within walking distance of my apartment (dream scenario!) and I’ve connected with them via Instagram. Here’s to hoping it’s a good fit – I’ve been so lucky with gyms so far!
I’m putting this one on the list again as well. I’ll be in a new city, new coast, new everything. I never quite found a community in Chapel Hill despite making a number of friends and the pandemic has shown me how important community is to me. I’m committing to getting out (COVID-safe until COVID is a thing of the past) and finding my people in L.A. If you have people in L.A., send ‘em my way. They could be my new best friends.
Find An Internship and/or An Agent
Interning is the best way I know to learn on the job and make connections. I’m hoping to spend the summer interning somewhere in L.A. to do just that. I’m also planning to finally send the query letters I’ve been working on. I’ve had a manuscript completed for ages and it’s time it sees the light of day.
Here’s to 2021.
May it be good to us.
May we learn as much from it as we did from 2020.
Question: What’s your Word of the Year?