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
“This year was its own education — a master class in how to achieve home despite headlines that question whether Muslims ought to be ‘banned,’ that wonder whether we really belong here at all.”
Caravan, by John DeVore
“My brown mother texted me from the lobby of her local Texas Lexus dealership that a white man had mentioned a recent TV cable news story about a lonely and shoeless army of immigrants crawling to the border and asked ‘do you know any of those?’
Grit, by Catherine Burnett
“I’m not the most talented, and my execution is not always pretty, but I learn from my mistakes, and I’m relentless.”
Exhaustion, by John S. (via Instagram)
“I’ve been too caught up acting as a son, an employee, a co-worker, a boyfriend, I’m starting to forget what it’s like to just be me.”
Shine, by Emma Dewhurst (via Instagram)
“Trying, trying, trying to shine bright and overcome my fear of being seen, using my creativity to nurture the same in others and imagine ourselves into a better world.”
Grateful, by Frances Gaffney
“Whenever I began to feel anxious or angry about the turmoil that seemed to overtake the world I would turn toward gratitude, and soon recover and remember that mostly humans are decent.”
Indelible, by Bearded Stoner (via Twitter)
“As in ‘indelible in the hippocampus:’ No matter who you are, what you believe, or how long you live, 2018’s gonna leave a mark.”
Justice, by Heather Leet (via Instagram)
“It was all here, all along; now we face it, now we pass the mic to those who have been silenced for so long, now we listen, now we celebrate truth, and fight for justice with courage and love.”
Monologue, by Talitha Anandini (via Instagram)
“In a world where everything is virtually connected, people have started to practice more monologue, forgetting how to have a proper dialogue.”
Transition, by Bianca Magbujos (via Instagram)
“I’ve been looking back at my old life for so long that it’s straining my neck and my vision, which is why I am finally embracing transition, a mental reorientation where my looking back ends and my moving forward begins.”
Truth, by @katiemee23 (via Twitter)
“Finding it, exposing it, bending it, living it, being simultaneously compelled by it and freed by it.”
Unplug, by Philip James (via Instagram)
“2018 defined the need to unplug from those who orchestrate chaos and fragmentation—and not get duped by their drama.”
Strength, by Annette Whittenberger (via Instagram)
“My daughter and I survived a very traumatic car accident 5 months ago, and we have used each other to keep moving forward each day.”
Endurance, by Ell_Enn (via Twitter)
“Endurance encompasses the grace with which I aspired to bear my losses and the fortitude with which I desire to march ahead.”