One Word. Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you? If you did Reverb10 then bonus points for also re-posting your 2011 word from last year along with how you feel about that in retrospect.
I am ashamed to admit that I couldn’t remember my word from last year. So I went back into my archive and read my first Reverb post. TIME, apparently, was on my mind last year and my hope for this year was to fill it with joy.
Well what is it they say about the best laid plans? Although there were great moments of joy this year, namely finishing my Ph.D. in May and the weeks of celebration that followed, experiencing the joy of that event was more difficult than I anticipated.
Finishing the dissertation left me in a pretty deep depression. It wasn’t what I expected at all – I thought that moment of triumph would carry me for a long, long time. But along with the relief I felt at finishing I also had a great deal of animosity about being done. I missed working on my dissertation and having something that consumed most of my waking thoughts. It was weird to wake up in the morning with my usual, “OMG what do I have to finish today?” and answer it with, “Nothing. It is done.”
I suppose the finality of that was something I should have anticipated, just as I should have anticipated how much looking for a new job would suck the life out of me. But burning deep inside of me is the bright light of an optimist, ever hoping for the best. I felt like something would break on the job front as I put out an endless stream of application letters for both full and part time jobs.
And slowly things did begin to break and opportunities I didn’t expect showed up and I ended up teaching an overload of classes for this semester (four schools, six classes, approximately 155 students). For most of the semester I felt like I was moving backwards, patch-working an adjunct schedule together like I did before I got into the Ph.D. program.
And then one new job showed up, one where I get to teach master’s students and my whole outlook changed. Finally, something new, exciting, different and permanent (for the most part) showed up in my life. I didn’t realize how stressful part time work would be this time, being older and in greater debt than I was when I first started teaching. That never knowing or only finding out a few weeks before the semester begins IF you have work the next term…. it’s painful. Some day I will write a scathing critique of higher education and how screwed up the adjunct system is. This is not that day.
So when I look back at this year the one word that comes to mind is transformation. This was a year filled with change, emotionally and physically (see posts on exercise for more about that). It is fitting, I think, for the months after finishing a big project to transform my life into something new and different. My plan for the spring is coming together in my head as well, with more time spent writing again. My fingers have been itching to write, a desire that was smothered by the depression around completing the dissertation. So I have high hopes for loosely keeping up with Reverb11 (no promises with such an overload of final papers to read in the next two weeks) and hoping this transformation brings me to a 2012 filled with joy. I worked on that this year, seems fitting to continue to work on it again until I can manage to manifest it for real.