What are you saying yes to in 2022? What are you letting go of? What were your big wins in 2021? Regrets? What are your intentions for 2022? What do you want to focus on? Is there a word or phrase that sums it up for you?
Meg Palladino, New Haven, Conn.
My word for 2022 is “better.” I looked it up in the dictionary: “higher in quality” is the first definition. My house is better than the apartment I lived in last year. Hiking once in a while is better than getting no exercise. Bird watching is a better hobby than snacking. The second definition is “more skillful.” I can bake better bread, I can build better fires, I write better emails. The third definition is “more attractive, appealing, effective, useful, etc.” Maybe I can dress better, clean better or treat myself better. The thing I like about better is that it isn’t quantifiable. I can’t fail, right?
Denise M. Horn, Boston/Wenzhou, China
My word for 2022 is “reimagining.” I’m reimagining my career and my life in a big way. I realized that my imagination about what was possible in my career and my life was becoming increasingly narrow, and I had imagined myself just getting through until I retired. But then, I thought, there’s more that will make me happy, and I began to reimagine what the possibilities could be. I let go of those deeply ingrained expectations and opened myself up for big change. My longtime partner and I got married. I resigned my tenured faculty position and accepted a new role as a dean at a Sino-American university … and we’re moving to China. I’m excited about my work again and cannot wait to start this new, reimagined chapter of my life.
Rachel Ellett, Madison, Wis.
My word for 2022 is “risk.” In the face of big, shifting structures of uncertainty, it can be hard to overcome the magnetic urge to retreat into the familiar and the routine. This is true in my professional career and in my family relationships. When life is “covidy” and uncertain, any change, anything unfamiliar, anything disruptive or new feels like a risk. I want to flip risk on its head. Twenty twenty-one risk was overwhelming, too complicated, too scary. Twenty twenty-two risk is opportunity, growth, reimagining (thank you, Denise!), better (thank you, Meg!). Taking a risk happens when you feel optimistic about the future. I guess this means I once again feel optimistic about the future!
Niya Bond, Bangor, Me.
During these last few months, I’ve been getting very little sleep after 10 p.m., because of a baby who loves night nursing. When I’m up in the wee hours, I’ve been watching Love Island UK, which I refuse to call a guilty pleasure (I’m doing away with that phrase in 2022!) and instead will just publicly embrace here as enjoyable. One thing that continually strikes me is how contestants on the show will use the phrase “that’s a bit of me” when referring to someone they’d like to “couple up with,” but also sometimes just in reference to anything that resonates with them—be it an outfit, an activity or a dream for the future. As someone who gets too bogged down by the what-ifs and wavers and waffles instead of wrapping things up, the idea of being so connected to my own desires, and so confident in their possible achievement, has me a little bit in awe. I’m thinking that this year will be a year of aspiration, and I’ll be marking things as a “bit of me” as I make them all manifest.
Anna CohenMiller, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
I love this practice of intentionality through a word and reading about others’ emphasis—I want to welcome in all of it, Meg’s better, Denise’s reimagining, Rachel’s risk, and Niya’s bit of me. And with that for 2022, I’m adding in “trust.” At one point in time, I considered trust naïve (how could I trust something I couldn’t see?). Yet today, I am welcoming it in all its forms (taking a risk, perhaps?): trusting myself, growing it, trusting others and nurturing professional and personal communities. And one way to grow this trust is by questioning myself in a regular practice. For instance, last year I published a book integrating questions for critical self-reflection and have found such questions incredibly useful for growing understandings. Thus, for this year, here are some questions I can return to for critical self-reflection around the topic of trust, for academic and personal realms:
For today, how can I welcome in trust?
For today, how can I grow my trust?
How can I be a channel for trust in myself and for others?
Melissa Nicolas, Pullman, Wash.
My word is “second half”—as in the second half of my career. If I am able to work until my planned retirement age, 2022 marks the point where I have put in just as many years in academia as I have years left to go. That resonates with me because so much happened in the first half that felt out of my control: tenure, parenting, moving, even what I researched and how. Now that I am starting the second half, I am hoping to take back some agency. I have a research agenda that I am pursuing not because it will yield publications that “count” but rather because I think the work matters both inside and outside the academy. I’ve made a commitment to stay planted in this town, so I have started putting down roots. Second half, for me, means making choices to rediscover joy in my work and my community,
Janni Aragon, Victoria, B.C.
I echo the other words and find that they resonate with me, too. I add “change.” The pandemic brought lots of positive change in my personal life and uncertainty in my professional life. I have no regrets for 2021 and am proud of myself for making an increased effort to remind myself and those around me that wellness is not mere words in a book, but something important to have in our daily lives. With the new year, I am excited to see what unfolds. I do wish all the “University of Venus” family a warm hug.
Yves Salomon-Fernández, Greenfield, Mass.
My word this year is “connection.” Climbing the career ladder in the last decade, I saw so little of or lost touch with some of the people I care the most about. Since making the shift to a non–life-consuming position, I have been able to reconnect with my children, spouse and dear friends. This year, I look forward to continuing to build these bonds and connections. My children are growing into fascinating young adults, and my time with them is limited. The pandemic imposed long periods of social isolation on all of us, so sharing memories of times past and making new memories with friends and loved ones are high on my priority list for 2022.
Itır Toksöz, Istanbul
When “University of Venus” started out many years ago, I was among the original team of contributors. Then somewhere down the road, I stopped writing regularly. The ever-increasing busyness and globally spreading hardships of academia everywhere, political developments in my part of the world, then the urgency of adapting to pandemic life made me stop writing, despite my will. It was beyond the act of writing—I have seen myself retreat from so many things I took pride in doing. So, my word for 2022 is “return,” not only to “University of Venus” but to many other activities that I have put on hold for a long time, to many existing or potential friendships that I neglected and to a dream of the future I lost hope of reaching. Without returning to those, I will not be able to go forward, and I am tired of the stagnation. I first aim to return to a former version of myself, not in the hope of bringing a past self, but for building on that version to create the future, with a view that is onward and upward.
Mary Churchill, Boston
My word for 2022 is “moxie.” I want to do more in 2022. I want to learn to live with COVID-19 in a way where it does not rule my life. I want to face the year with courage, determination, energy and know-how. I want to face the year with moxie. To do that, I need the strength and support that a community provides. One of my communities is the one here at “University of Venus” at Inside Higher Ed. I am a member of a community of women in higher ed with amazing words, hopes and dreams for 2022. Thank you for joining us.
What is your word for 2022?
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