Several years ago I started the habit of picking a word at the beginning of the year. The word was meant to serve as a reminder of what I want to focus on and as a guide for how I wanted to be living. I chose words like “love”, “joy”, “accept” and “focus”, and I really enjoyed the process of not only picking the word but also using the word throughout the year.
At the beginning of 2020, however, I found myself being unable to pick a word. As the first days of 2020 turned into the first weeks of 2020 I found myself to be incredibly frustrated that no word was standing out to me. No matter how much reflection I did I was simply drawing a blank. By the time February came around, with the tsunami of the pandemic looming, I gave up on my quest to choose a word and I simply went into survival mode.
Maybe I should have chosen…
In hindsight, I feel that my inability to choose a word for 2020 is poignant and symbolic for a year that was unlike any other in recent history. In retrospect, I think the word that I would choose for 2020 would be “disruption”, because 2020 disrupted our lives in so many ways.
2020 disrupted what we considered to be normal. It disrupted routines. It disrupted lives. It disrupted friendships and our perception of what we thought was reality. The year was beyond challenging and it took unimaginable effort to get through.
Every cloud has a silver lining…
On the other hand, despite the disruptions, I can’t help but also notice the quiet, positive attributes of 2020. For example, 2020 taught us to be better problem solvers, to be more flexible, and to be more patient. It allowed us to take on change, adapt, and prepare for the next level. It gave us permission to slow down and notice the beauty of the great outdoors. It allowed us to appreciate our family and friends and become more aware of our own thoughts, biases, habits and even to acknowledge privileges we may never had been aware of. As a society there is so much more work to do, but we have 2020 to thank for the awareness that change is necessary.
Finally, 2020 brought the dental community together in a way that I have never experienced before. The amount of collaboration and camaraderie among the dentists in CT was refreshing and astounding and at times it overwhelmed me with emotion. The collaboration even extended throughout the nation as dentists used online platforms to share information and experiences. I now have new professional connections and friendships that exist all because of 2020, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Given all the experiences of 2020, my word for 2021 came to me quickly and easily: HOPE. Christopher Reeve once said, “Once you choose hope anything is possible.” I hope that 2021 is a better year for all of us.