Readers share the words that defined this year for them, from the profound to the personal

Nate Goldman
Dec 14, 2018 · 4 min read

A lot happened in 2018—and not just politically, though that certainly is where one’s mind tends to wander. This was a year that invited introspection; a year that forced many to remember that the things shaping the national and global conversation are the aggregate of millions of personal stories: a pointillist painting of individual experience.

And those personal stories are precisely what we wanted to hear. At the beginning of this week, as part of our Words That Matter series, we asked you to choose a single word that mattered most to you in 2018, and write a one-sentence essay that explains why.

You responded—immediately. Stories of personal triumph, of trauma, growth, and experience coalesced to form a snapshot of Medium readers’ year. You shared what mattered to you, what changed in your world, what changed inside of you, and what stayed the same.

Here is a collection of your stories, shared with us from emails, tweets, Instagram comments, and more.


Home, by Hilal Isler

Art by Elena Lacey

Caravan, by John DeVore

Art by Elena Lacey

Grit, by Catherine Burnett

Art by Elena Lacey

Exhaustion, by John S. (via Instagram)

Art by Elena Lacey

Shine, by Emma Dewhurst (via Instagram)

Art by Elena Lacey

Grateful, by Frances Gaffney


Indelible, by Bearded Stoner (via Twitter)


Justice, by Heather Leet (via Instagram)


Monologue, by Talitha Anandini (via Instagram)


Transition, by Bianca Magbujos (via Instagram)


Truth, by @katiemee23 (via Twitter)


Unplug, by Philip James (via Instagram)


Strength, by Annette Whittenberger (via Instagram)


Endurance, by Ell_Enn (via Twitter)

Words That Matter

Some of the year’s most influential writers, thinkers, and experts reflect on the words that matter most in 2018.

Thanks to Sam Duboff

Nate Goldman

Written by

social editor @medium.

Words That Matter

Some of the year’s most influential writers, thinkers, and experts reflect on the words that matter most in 2018.

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