One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 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 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)


I’m just hit with it now, in December’s death throes as the New Year threatens to overtake the old one – but I can feel the repercussions of the year, certain instances that have blended to culminate into these last few days.

I never thought I would spend so much time learning – specifically learning to undo what I have done and regress to a simpler form: a muter, deafer self. I have become too sensitive, too sharp, attuned to my surroundings. The drop of a pin can cause me to do something drastic, eschew all I have accomplished and prided myself on.

I forget myself.

These days, I am still learning what constitutes being a good friend, a good student, a good writer. The good student, I am sure I am, and am also sure I have been too unsure of it throughout this year. Relax, I need to. Delve into some inner recess of quietude instead of the passions of schoolwork. Oh yes. Passion. Dry humor, really. But. I am not sure about being a good writer. I have written two “novels”, two hurriedly dashed out November writing novels. Yet I don’t associate particular joy or achievement with them. It is the unfinished products that I have spent so much time fussing about – it is those pieces I have learned I truly love.

Being a good friend is a basic facet to life, one that I’ve taken for granted. I need to learn how to do that again. I need to carefully consider this time, and learn, and speculate if all my relationships are salvageable. It is not all my fault. I believe that I have become a new person, and with that, developed a higher sense of acumen, of discernment. Perhaps I am learning, now, the definition of a true friend. Life was easier in middle school, I’m not loath to admit it.

But today, here, now, in December, while I still have a chance to become something new underneath this cocoon I am about to cast away – I still have hope, that I can salvage things. This year brought a lot of development. I’m finally sixteen. I have performed impossibly under stress – the most stressful year by far, this year, 2010 (also the fastest) – I have gone to Columbia, the writing camp, I have developed new ties with new people… I have done so much, that some sacrifices, I need not feel worried about. I tell myself this, as I consider cutting off some ties with people for good. Some are vicious cycles. Just one, in actuality.

But I know for certain I will emerge stronger from the nadirs. Nothing is blacker than these darkest moments – after them, only light will suffuse. This is what I’ll carry with me as I enter the new year, and with this, carry the facet that the word for the year 2011 will be “hope.” After learning comes hope; after I have learned about all the gross fallibilities in life this year, all the pockmarks and ditches that emerged in a road I had found easy to traverse on in the past, hope is the one thing I can be sure about. Nothing else. We are all mortal; we are all ephemeral. We change at the drop of a hat and we hate and we love. The thing that matters is that we continue to hope, even in times of hardness and depression.

There is no better word.