We’re near the end of our 2021 Word of the Year essay contest. We will stop accepting nominations on December 24, 2021. Several hundred people have taken the time to write a short essay on the word they believe best captures our times. Our selection for the 2021 Wordsmyth Word of the Year will be announced on December 30, 2021. This timing allows the word to bridge between years, summing up our shared experiences of the past year, or our anticipations for the future.

Other dictionaries also select a Word of the Year, typically justifying their choice by the number of times a word has been looked up. This is one indicator of the relevance of a word to users’ experiences. But at Wordsmyth, we have broadened our perspectives. We want to encourage everyone to reflect on our experiences and not just on the words that have been looked up in our dictionaries.

Below are some of the nominations that show deep reflection on the world that can be invoked by important words. For these words, the time spent reflecting on their meanings is worthwhile. And if we then use these words to communicate about our diverse experiences, our discussions and dialogues will be rich and productive.

Excellence

The challenges of the COVID pandemic are similar to playing football. The object of the game is to carry the ball to the end zone. You do this in small ten-yard increments. You get four “downs” to advance those ten yards to be rewarded with another group of four “downs”. At the third down, when you’re maybe just one yard away from that ten yard marker, you must decide if you want to run to reach it, or abandon the effort and punt the ball to the other team. What will you do?
The concept of excellence is like a football game. You are constantly striving to reach that end zone. But, you’re not going to get there in one step on a single run. You’ll get there in small increments. Each effort you do will move you closer to that next ten-yard marker. But, it will require a lot of effort and stamina. You’ll get tackled frequently, and you’ll be on the ground, often. When you get close to your next ten-yard step and you’ve just been tackled, are you going to arise and put in that last bit of extra effort to improve yourself and advance to the next marker in your life? Or, will you give all your efforts away right there and punt all your achievements to your opponent?

transformation

Change is an unchanging character of life, as one philosopher pointed out, but the change that took place once the disease reached pandemic proportions has probably been the most violent since the world wars. I call it violent, because it was a change for the worse, it was forced on us, it was global, and it occurred in the blink of an eye. This is not about lockdowns or economic hardship; this is about an invisible virus ushering in a new social and economic paradigm. I believe that the transformation into a technologically advanced, if economically strained, state was imminent anyhow, but I could never have pictured the global society succumbing as a whole to the situation so fast. We are now experiencing a very painful phase of the transformation and I hope better days will follow, but I hope wisdom and compassion lead those who will be leading us through these difficult times so that we can all make it to those better days.

togetherness

By drawing together and supporting each other, my family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and clientele, we have survived through loss, poverty, health and wellbeing on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. 
Personally, my transgender daughter who suffers from mental health issues ramped up to suicidal attempts during the pandemic, along with my father to whom I have been giving phone support through a yearlong acute and palliative care journey in 3 different hospitals and at home during border lockdowns, pastoral care for staff and students where I work and elderly neighbours needing support and being mindful of taking care of myself often reaching burn out point. With the support of kind family and friends, I am coping and find strength in our challenges and hardships through togetherness.

resiliency

We are living in stressful times worldwide. One can even call it Covid time, time of restrictions, time of anger, time of oppression, time of death, and pain. Still, while we are alive we have to continue living.
I refuse to live in a survival mode but instead, I want to to be driven by resiliency. It is driving me on my day to day tasks being thankful that I am alive, I have family, I have a job and my students who are the motor that gives me the energy and the power to say that these are not times to cry and do nothing but time to rise above negativity to do what we need to do and inspire others to do the same.
Resiliency in its full human meaning must be taken all in this year, 2021, to rise above COVID and everything that comes with it. You can do it if I can!