For a certain group of humans in this world, specifically people who love bullet journaling and suburban mom bloggers who are weirdly good at crafts on Instagram, every new year comes with an obvious partner: a new word! This word is something specific to you and is meant to be a declaration, a manifestation, an inspiration – all rolled into one. This year we’re stealing the concept for us, because why the fuck not!
Please join in by picking a word, any word, that is going to represent 2019 for you, and you in 2019. Then feel free to tattoo that word on your bod, write it on a post-it note and hang it on the wall next to your desk, draw a beautiful spread about it in your bullet journal or Passion Planner, or totally forget about it immediately! Let’s all pick a single word that we want to engage with in 2019. If you do this anyway, wonderful, if you think this is dumb, please humor us (or just ignore this post, lol)!
And while you’re here – what are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Tell us all your hopes and dreams! We love you! Happy New Year!
Here are the words the Autostraddle team chose for 2019. We’ve got create; we’ve got rest; we’ve got act; we’ve got focus; we’ve got family; and we’ve got no! Let no one say the queers of 2019 can’t have it all.
Vanessa, Community Editor
I didn’t have an official word for 2018, but I think if I’m being honest it might have been CHAOS. I was going to say CHANGE, and that’s true too, but the change was not the gradual easy kind, the kind where you don’t really notice things are moving and shifting and then suddenly everything is fresh and new. No, the change I experienced in 2018 was, uh, chaotic! I broke up with my partner of four years who I thought I was going to spend my whole life with, I got into grad school, I moved across the country to attend grad school, and I shifted my whole personal brand to like, Extremely Thirsty and DTF. It was a lot! Now I’m firmly ensconced in this new life – I’m a grad student, I live in Yonkers, I’m attempting to practice ethical non-monogamy in earnest, and I just turned 30! – and it’s time to take a deep breath, accept the radical shifts that cracked open my life this year, and really fucking focus. Hence, my word for 2019.
I want to write even more and be extremely intentional about putting words on the page (or the screen). I want to get a grip on my social media and phone usage and stop scrolling mindlessly instead of sleeping. I want to create routines that make me feel good. I want to get back to being a person who spends a lot of time outside. I want to continue checking in with myself about what feels good in my heart and my brain and then I want to do those things! All of these things require focus. I’m a Capricorn sun with a Virgo rising, so you’d think focus would come naturally to me, but I’ve also got a Gemini moon, and my whole life has often felt like a push and pull between the earth and the air in my chart. This year, I’m going to grow my roots deep into the earth. I’m going to shut down the distractions. I’m going to get grounded. I’m going to focus.
Heather Hogan, Managing Editor
I barely talk about meditation in my writing or even with my voice in my real life, just casual mentions here and there. Or I guess maybe it’s more accurate to say that I do talk about it, but not in proportion to what an enormous part of my life it is. The reason why is because I don’t want to be one of those white ladies, and I did quite enough religious proselytizing when I was entrenched in the Baptist church for 27 years, and it’s actually something kind of sacred to me and I don’t want anyone else’s paws on it (some of the nicest people I know have said some of the meanest stuff to me about meditation). Also, honestly talking about the tenants and benefits of meditation sounds trite as hell without personal application.
I started meditating about a year and a half ago, three minutes a day, with the Headspace app, because anxiety was eating my life to the point that even the anxiety-specific therapist I went to see seemed startled by it (which only gave me more anxiety!). Meditation was meant to be a tool to help me make it through the day and accomplish the minimum amount of tasks necessary to be considered a functioning adult human, and it was that — but as time went on and I saw how it was benefitting my mental and physical health, my work, my happiness, and the people I love most in so many surprising ways, I developed an actual meditation practice.
Vipassana is both a type of meditation and the Buddhist idea of insight or “clear-seeing,” of recognizing the essential nature of things (especially your own thoughts and feelings), of not deluding yourself with stories stacked on top of stories stacked on top of stories about who you are and what you’re doing and why, of recognizing the self-castigation and self-flattery that cloud your ability to see even your seemingly simplest actions for what they truly are. Our minds and bodies evolved for dissimilar lives than the ones we’re living; natural selection was concerned with helping us stay alive and pass on our genes — in a very different kind of world, with very different social structures, and very different threats to our health and happiness — than the one we’re currently living in. So we’re hard-wired to hoodwink ourselves about a whole lot to accomplish those two things. Vipassana is seeing everything for what it actually is, not what we’re afraid it is or what we want it to be.
Siobhan, Contributing Writer
I feel like I spent a lot of time stagnating in my twenties. I made a lot of excuses; I loved my best friends too much to need try dating, I was going to get better any day now so I didn’t need to modify my lifestyle – which then became, when it inevitably got worse, I was going to get better any day now so I didn’t need to try and have a life until then. Writing was meant to be what I did while I waited for my body to get better so I could go back to archiving and I didn’t really have a coherent plan for it. Everything was meant to be temporary. A year or two back I realised it probably wasn’t going to be and I actually had to get out of the places I felt comfortable and stop waiting for my life to begin. It was hard and took a lot of steps but I have a partner I love, a wider circle of friends and the start of a steady career that fits around my illness. For the next year I’m really going to work on building these things into something solid and secure. I have the foundation and that was the hard and scary part, the rest is just going to take work and I’ve never been afraid of that.
Rachel, Managing Editor
At the risk of sounding dramatic, 2018 was I think the most exhausting year of my life. It involved moving to a new city and building a new life there, working constantly as we tried to make Autostraddle better than ever and hustling for small side gigs for extra money now that I was living alone, some ambitious emotional acrobatics while I did things like get an interstate divorce, constant juggling and figuring out and managing and making do and ~making it work~ in every area of my life. It also involved very little actual literal rest because I stopped being able to sleep through the night, unable to stop thinking about the aforementioned things and also how awful everything on earth is. I say that not to complain, but because I have resolved that that shit has got to stay in 2018! 2019 I’m making space in my life for rest, things and practices and people that genuinely restore me rather than taking more out of me or just providing a temporary pause or distraction — the equivalent of cooking a real dinner with multiple food groups rather than eating a large spoonful of peanut butter standing up. I think this will open up a lot of space and energy in my life for new and great things, but that isn’t even the point; mostly I think pursuing actual rest, solace and comfort will feel really good and be good for me, all on its own.
Valerie Anne, Writer
Revolution has many definitions, but the one that speaks to me for this coming year is, “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change of paradigm.” This year fucking sucked. But getting to my lowest low in a long time helped me realize something: it’s time to change. I’m unsatisfied at my day job, especially compared to how fulfilled I feel by my work at Autostraddle. One of my older groups of friends was really dragging me down, especially compared to groups of new friends I’ve made in the past year or two. I finally realized that the power to change these circumstances was in my hands. Slowly releasing yourself from a group of friends you’ve had for years to focus on the people who bring you joy and really get you is hard, but it’s doable. Changing jobs and careers to follow your dreams feels impossible, but you’ll never know until you try. So next year, I’m going to focus. I’m going to write those scripts, I’m going to apply to those jobs, I’m going to stop going to social events that make me want to crawl under my covers and never get out when I think about them. I’m going to change. Plus I’m also going to continue smashing the patriarchy any chance I get.
Surprisingly, maybe not surprisingly, I am deep in one of those corners of Instagram where white ladies come up with a word of the year, specifically evangelical Christian moms. I’ve had a word of the year for the past 2 years. For 2018 it was “wisdom” which is, frankly, hilarious. Maybe it’s not, though? As I was coming up with 2019’s word, I uncovered that part of what made this year feel like a shit show – at work, at school, in my relationships – was my tendency to freeze up. And I freeze up, usually, because I set unreasonable goals for myself. I’m still judging my work ethic against that of 17-year-old me, who had zero bills to pay, and lived a very posh suburban life! That is not me. School is not the same, work is not the same, and I think I finally realized what’s holding me back is that I’ve spent the past two or three years pretending like that isn’t true. So sure, maybe I gained some wisdom, I guess.
In 2019, I’m setting reasonable, meetable goals that take into account my mental and physical health, that aren’t in comparison to my peers, that don’t require an all or nothing mindset. Then, I’m going to ACT on them. I’m not going to freeze, because before I commit to something, I’ll take assessment of where I am. I’ll stop living in fear that my honesty will let someone down, or make them think less of me. One of the definitions of act is “a state of realization, as opposed to potentiality.” I spend a lot of my time thinking about what I could do instead of doing things. If I want to start realizing my dreams or whatever, I have to start acting on them. I’m a big scared baby about it but, idk, maybe next year I won’t feel so, like this, at the end of the year.
Laneia, Executive Editor
A lot of my life has been me like, stumbling into things and then making them work. Some of those things have been amazing — an unexpected pregnancy, this job! — and some of them have been a real fucking struggle. Not many things have actually been planned with a clear intention, and that’s what I’ve been working on. I’m talking about the big things, like a savings account and my wardrobe, but also little things like this desk, for example. The desk is fine but I’m only using it because it happens to be the desk that I’ve had since I happened upon it on craigslist nearly 7 years ago and the previous owner just happened to live near enough by and I happened to have the cash available to spend that day. But truth be fucking told, this desk is too small for me and it always has been! And I hate the way it looks! I’ve wasted 7 years of my life looking at and working at this too-small ugly desk and like, why? What do I want my office to look like, hmm? How do I need my space to work for me? How long will it take to save up the money to get these helpful pieces of furniture? Let’s find out! I’ve slowly been taking more control over more things and now I’m on a roll and cannot be stopped. All the things I want? I can surely have them, but I have to be intentional about my actions in order to get there! I know this sounds like the simplest thing ever and maybe it is! But I’m ready – I am so ready – for more things in my life to be on purpose.
Heather Davidson, Contributing Writer
Like a lot of people, my 2018 sucked. However, the silver lining is that it largely sucked due to me making the difficult, fantastic decision to leave London and move back up to Scotland. I’ve spent the last few months of 2018 shedding the survival techniques I relied on in the big city, where just making it through the day took up everything in me and left no room for anything else. After years of lacking the energy to create, I can finally feel the not-just-writer’s-block-but-everything-block lifting. Right now, that might be manifesting itself in me spending all the money I’m saving on rent on craft supplies. In 2019, though, I’m ready to channel that energy into the simple joy of creating. I’ve missed you!
Eli, Tech Intern
I tried to pick a word that was the opposite of my 2018, and though I’m not sure it fully captures the opposite of this real rollercoaster of a year, I’m going with calm. My past year has been largely consumed with my transition, undergoing significant physical and emotional changes – having serious conversations about my gender with nearly everyone in my life, and taking large steps towards living my life openly. It hasn’t all been bad, but it has been all-consuming, anxiety-inducing and honestly exhausting. I want a year where I get to feel calm, or realistically, calmer. I want to not think about Trans Stuff day in and day out, and just live my actual normal life without a constant churn of high-stakes decisions and interactions. I would also like to stop grinding my teeth at night, that would be cool! So here I go, trying my absolute best to just calm down.
Alexis, Contributing Writer
I’m on mood stabilizers that work (BLESS UP) and have a new job (BLESS EXTRA UP) and can almost always count on a paycheck, which means I can dream like a whole MONTH into the future instead of three days/hours/minutes/anxiety-ed breaths. The thing about being so used to believing that dreaming was all I could afford to do, is that it’s really hard for me to act on those dreams and push them into reality. I’ve been super content with living in my head (it has not been a very lovely place, but it’s mine). Now it’s time for me to like… do stuff.
I want to write a novel! I have to sit down and write everyday. I want to love my people more openly! I have to actually like maybe leave my house (I’m not a 100% decided on this one yet). I want to heal! I have to finally face my psychosis and whatnot.
What do my hands have to do with this? I’ll tell you! When I kept a lot of stuff in for very many years, it always felt like my fingertips were crying. There was a weight that made me keep my hands away from everything. Then nothing could touch me and I couldn’t ruin everything else with my touch. Now, thanks to a lot of therapy, my fingers don’t feel like they’re crying all the time anymore. I want to reach out and touch (with consent) my dreams and other parts of the world. I can only do it if I make my hands move that what’s already in my head and my heart into reality. Did you get lost while reading this? So did I, but the whole point is I’m gonna lay out actionable steps to things I want to do – instead of just doodling about them in the margins of my brain where they can stay pretty and perfect and never fully real. I’m terrified, but my hands were also terrified once. I think it’s time to give them a chance to do something other than hurt and grieve and cry, don’t you?
I was pressed to declare a word for this roundtable while shopping at my local Whole Foods, which asks, via aggressive advertising, “what makes you whole?” I don’t know what makes me whole, but I know that a lot of my life feels a little broken right now, while also somehow feeling fuller than ever with possibility and adventure. A mid-year breakup blew my world open in so many unexpected ways, and, coinciding with literally everybody else’s breakups, that meant I was able to invest in friendships, community and travel like never before. I’ve also made valuable business connections I wouldn’t have taken the time for otherwise. I’ve gotten to know myself — honestly, I don’t always like what I see, but you’ve gotta know what’s broken before you can troubleshoot a solution, right?
In 2019, I aim to be whole. To find funding for Autostraddle because we can’t keep running on half a budget. To take care of myself and deal with my fibromyalgia because I can’t keep running on a body so prone to falling apart. To deal with the trauma I experienced through a relationship that ended in 2016 and has made me terrified to be vulnerable or give myself over to desire or even hope. I don’t think I can honestly expect to become whole in 2019. But I think aiming for it is a good first step towards getting at least halfway there. (Except with the Autostraddle budget thing. That’s non-negotiable.)
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, but make it no. Every person/ thing/ proposition/ environment/ situation that takes more than it gives is getting hit with that: No. I’m thrilled to enter this new year and probably shock those around me with the kind of No that’s accompanied by little to no explanation! Today on Twitter I saw someone ask the rapper CupcakKe what she thought of Taylor Swift (?) and she responded, “That’s none of my business.” Wow! The finesse of that No. It’s beautiful. I aspire to reach that level of adeptness because a No is a Yes to Yourself. Be blessed, everyone!
2018 was easily the busiest year of my adult life, with a new job and a cross-country move and everything those changes require. I’ve been juggling a lot and realized in the course of everything that I tend to retreat into pointless tasks when I get overwhelmed. I’ll start mindlessly filling the time and, before I know it, everything is ten times more stressful than it would have been in the first place. In 2019, I plan to be more intentional, cutting down on the random voids of lost minutes and embracing the purpose behind everything (even sitting in silence, which it turns out I really enjoy!).
Carmen, Associate Editor
Ok, technically “bit-by-bit” is three words, but just go with me! 2018 had a lot of big swing changes. I got a new degree, I started a new job here, and everything has been rapid fire as I adjust to my new normal. This year I’m focusing on taking life in smaller chunks. I have no idea if other big changes are on the horizon, but if they are coming, I don’t want them to overwhelm me. Even the largest obstacles can be broken into bite sized, accomplishable, action-based pieces. My anxiety doesn’t have to always win! That’s what I want to remember in 2019. I can be in charge of the storm.
I used to worry all the time about whether I was achieving my life goals fast enough, particularly if I was getting ahead at work or in my education or just, like, in general. I had a 10-year job goals vision for myself when I was 22. I’m still young, but as each year passes, I feel less and less urgent about MAKING BIG PLANS. Life is unpredictable. I never ever imagined I’d have a kid and love being a parent. I didn’t think I’d write a book anytime before the age of, like, 50. I didn’t think I’d ever have the honor or being published on Autostraddle or become a “real writer.” I definitely didn’t plan to stay in the same monogamous relationship for over 13 years or get married! Legally! However, I still worry about missing out on opportunities or not making the right choices when presented with an opening.
I turn 36 on January 6th. That means I’m closer to 40 than 30. Instead of feeling like I’m not doing enough, I feel kind of like I could do anything. Who knows what the next 10 years brings? Or even the next 12 months? I want to cultivate openness in 2019 with an intentional practice. I want to approach life decisions, challenges, and opportunities with the foundation that every choice I make is the right choice for that moment. I want to be more open to failure, to risk, and to taking creative chances. I want to be in the moment, instead of worried about the future or over-processing the past. I want to be open to my own needs and listen deeply to myself. I want to be more vulnerable with others, particularly when I’m coming from a place of structural power. I know that life will continue to throw me curve balls in 2019. I want to be more ready to receive them.
Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor
When I’m not writing for Autostraddle, my day/night job is managing a club. That takes up about 200% of my time. My friends always wonder when I sleep and the answer is I DO NOT SLEEP. Unfortunately (but not shockingly), this has taken a serious toll on my personal life and my mental health!!! I’m taking about twice the dose of antidepressants I was taking this time last year and REALLY trying to force myself to socialize in my frighteningly rare spare time. I went on two whole dates in 2018, and did not fare much better in 2017. I very rarely see even my closest friends. I miss a lot of important moments.
I’ve wanted this every year for the last four, but I really want it this year: Balance. I want to slow down, get organized, be more intentional about the choices I make, take care of my relationships. I don’t want my friends and family to forget I exist during my busy season. I want to make the most of my free days. I fell into a rut this year in terms of my health, my diet, the way I take care of myself in general. It all boils down to work stress, but I’m still not convinced it has to. I have been treating my needs as extremely decadent wants. Honestly, that’s not working out too well.
Mostly, I want to be able to wake up in the morning ready to seize the goddamn day. Just kidding, I wake up in the afternoon, but you know what I mean.
Robin, A-Camp Co-Director
I know this was a terrible year for many people and a terrible year in general. I’m not normally prone to hyperbole, but the first half of this year was probably the worst of my life. My grandma died in January. My mom lost her hearing in February, was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in March, and died in April. I spent a month as her hospice nurse watching her painful deterioration. Then I felt nothing for 3 or 4 months. I mean I felt NOTHING. I didn’t really cry. I walked through life like a shadow. Even at A-Camp I smiled through layers of pain I didn’t even know were there. Sometime in August, everything came flooding back. I didn’t stop crying until October. I discovered parts of myself buried for so many years, decades even. I decided to open up my life to change in every way. I changed my career path. I took up new hobbies. I looked further inward and dreamed bigger. I began to feel my body again. I gained so much confidence this fall and just went for things.
2019 is the year that we won’t let up until we are good. I want every single person in my orbit to feel their power and purpose. I want every single thing I’ve wanted my entire adult life to begin. I will not stop until it happens. When my mom died, she had mostly regrets. She had unfinished work (she was an artist with a lot of repressed pain). She had so many missed opportunities. Her once bright and burning passion for life and for herself had faded. I watched her go out too quietly. And dammit, not me.
Also, I plan to wear a lot more capes and big hats.
Before she even dropped her debut album, The ArchAndroid, Janelle Monáe developed the concept behind her 2018 masterpiece, Dirty Computer (it’s the album of the year, don’t @ me). She pushed the idea aside for nearly eight years, waiting until she was ready to do the necessary emotional excavation to craft Dirty Computer into what she imagined.
I have ideas — so many that it’s hard to turn my brain off most nights — and, particularly this year, I’ve been frustrated with my inability to bring them to fruition, right way. Why can’t I build this thing, whatever it is, to match the picture I had in my head? But the lesson I’m taking into 2019, courtesy of Janelle Monáe, is to have more patience. Few ideas or dreams come out of our heads fully formed. They take cultivation, and that requires work and time. Stopping to learn something new isn’t a cause for frustration, it’s a necessary vehicle to get yourself to whatever dream or idea you have.
Dirty Computer’s eight year delay was pitch perfect, not just for Janelle — who seems to be living her best life right now — but for the audience. We needed that album, with that message, at exactly this moment. There’s a time and a season for every idea and every dream and maybe the time for mine isn’t right now. I just have to be patient.
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Writer
I have so many physical and emotional wounds right now that it almost feels like a joke to say I need to heal. For six months in 2018, I could only count the days I didn’t cry on one hand. Something happened to me this spring that felt like my life shattering into a million glass pieces and then someone immediately putting that explosion into slow-motion, so those pieces didn’t even fall anywhere; they just slowly hovered in the air, a shattering with no end in sight. Isn’t that a lovely image!
I stopped sleeping to the point where it started to affect my physical health and short-term memory. Things occasionally got even darker than that when I turned on myself, my brain, my body, blaming myself for things that never could have been my fault. Uhhh, so I need to heal. I don’t know what that looks like exactly, but I’m heading into 2019 with it at the top of my priority list. I need to remember to be gentle with myself. I need to be better about asking for help when I need it. I need to pick up those fucking glass pieces and make them into something new and better.
Crystal, HR Director
For the first few decades of my existence, family always felt fleeting; something I only ever managed to experience in short-to-mid termed bursts. People came and went – some died, some drifted away, some I left. I’ve always craved a more permanent connection and every year of my thirties has felt a step closer. I gained a wonderful wife and in-laws who’ve embraced me, a nephew I am obsessed with, and a couple of friends who lean on me and I can lean on. In 2019, we’re going to attempt to grow a human. I don’t know yet if my body’s gonna get on board, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got.
Ooooh! I’m so ready for this cause I’m one of those people that chooses a word every year. It’s a practice that has really helped me maintain focus and feel like i’m always working toward a goal even when I get a little lost in life. The word I chose this year is abundance. I am calling in financial abundance, creative abundance, wardrobe abundance! I want this year to overflow with love, laughter and friendship. I want my house full of people I love, eating delicious meals and talking about the goals we’re striving for. I want an abundance of new experiences in new destinations. I literally want the universe to shower me with so many gifts that I couldn’t possibly keep them all for myself. Then I get to give the extras to others and help them glow up, too. As always, I’m also aiming for an abundance of bomb photoshoots for the ‘gram.
Audrey, Contributing Writer
2019 is gonna be a big year, with all sorts of opportunities for change and growth and things that could either be magical or go horribly wrong. I’m getting married! Figuring out what transition means to me! Some other stuff I can’t tell you about yet!
I keep “joking” that I want to turn myself into an orb of life because having a body is really getting me down, but I’ll settle for spiritual fluidity. I want to move in, out of, and through all the big things and come out whole on the other side. I want to dance and run and wrestle with my dog and make out with my spouse. I don’t want to forget about stillness, but it’s going to be important to remember my own power to move myself through the world and everything that it throws at me.
A.E. Osworth, Contributing Writer
I’ve had the worst year of my life and it’s only recently started to get better! But! That’s been mostly my personal life. My professional life has actually been on fire in the good way??
I finished the fifth draft of my novel back in July, and at the end of November I signed with Christopher Hermelin at Fischer-Harbage, so I have an agent now! I’ve got more edits to do on this book, plus a whole other one I’m writing that is a magical trans romp (because whooo boy this book is a BUMMER and I need a happy thing). I also have a slew of essays I’ve been working on, 40 pages worth of poems and a list of writing goals for 2019. Professionally, I want to keep finding the spark that has near died in this last year (I mean, if we’re really being honest, in the last 2.5 years) to make things and actually see them through, instead of saving them as fragments on my Google Drive and telling myself they won’t be good enough to share with anyone. 2019 is the year of creating wonderful things — and on top of writing and publishing, that includes creating the personal life I want in all sorts of ways, big and small.
Most of my life has been determined by needing to stay in some places because of various reasons: my family said I had to, my dad got sick, I bought a house, got married, etc. Now my life is in a totally different place than I ever expected it to be. Fear holds almost no power over me at the moment, because fearing pain didn’t make something less painful, so what’s the point? It’s time to move, time to do, time to see loss as opportunity for something totally different. It’s time for me to go.
Sarah, Business + Design Director
I’ve spent a lot of 2018 traversing surfaces — traveling almost every month and moving across the country to start a new life in Portland. A very important and long-term relationship came to an end. I haven’t stood still this entire year. Much of my momentum was born from need to move deeper into myself — to create a life driven by choices that are truly mine.
Recently I came across one of my favorite poems, “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich. In a very straightforward way, she describes the idea of healing old trauma by exploring it — in this case, a shipwreck. To face “the thing itself, and not the myth”. Therapy has begun this process for me. It’s been such a powerful tool already, even in just grazing the surface. 2019 is about diving way deeper than I ever have before. I’m fully ready to embrace challenges and bask in all the growth that comes with it.
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
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