I’m terrible at New Year’s resolutions, so I’m intrigued by the concept of a One Word resolution. Rather than making a list of things to do: “lose 25 pounds, finish my novel, get and stay organized,” you pick a word to be mindful of as you go through your daily life. It’s a simple way to make positive changes.
I first became acquainted with the One Word resolutions at NASPA’s 2010 conference in Chicago, during a loud, self-congratulatory conference opening session. I don’t mean to disparage these conference-wide opening sessions. They are loud because there are thousands of excited professionals crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in unforgiving hotel conference chairs and they are self-congratulatory because one of the purpose of such a conference is to re-energize professionals to go back to work and do well. It just all becomes a little hard on my introverted nerves. I suspect that some extroverts liken it to heaven. Noisy, noisy heaven.
In this context, my introduction to One Word came in the form of a slickly produced video of student affairs professionals talking about how their One Word was changing the way they lived and worked. It was an interesting concept at an overwhelming time. I love NASPA’s annual conference for the diversity of sessions and the opportunity to see a new city, but the act of being present in an unfamiliar space with thousands of strangers becomes taxing quickly, especially when I’m also trying to network and impress potential employers. The One Word video must have left a mark on me, because it stands out in my memories of a week where I also saw Condoleezza Rice speak, began to plan to take an internship abroad, had my first student affairs job interview (it didn’t go well), and discovered that I was no match for even the smallest Chicago-style pizza split with a friend.
2010, 11 and 12 proved to be transformative without need of conscious thought. I was laid of from my crummy dead-end legal assistant job, used my sudden, penniless freedom as an excuse to take a once-in-a-lifetime internship in France, spent 6 months looking for work when I returned to the US, and finally found the ridiculously awesome RD job I’m doing today. My first year as a student affairs professional brought its own learning curve, and I’m convinced that because of lots of hard work and two inspirational supervisors, I am a different professional than I was in July 2011. I didn’t need a concept upon which to meditate because I was busy surviving.
I was ruminating on what an interesting year 2012 had been when I stumbled upon a tweet by Becca Obergefell, a Student Affairs professional with whom I’ve become acquainted over social media.
Becca’s Tweet and a cursory glance at the resources in her blog brought me back to that crazy-loud room full of professionals on a networking-based holiday, and thinking about how I felt in that endless conference ballroom, I began to think about how much I’ve grown as a professional and how I want to keep growing in 2013.
My supervisor has given me a set of professional goals, and I have made some personal goals for myself. Many of those goals involve writing. I love to write, and over the last, transformative few years, writing has taken a back seat to experience and self-care. It’s my goal to make writing a part of my experience and part of my self-care, as it should be. Hence, my one word is:
Most commonly and most loosely, λόγος translates to “word.” It makes sense for someone who is looking forward to a year of reacquainting herself with words. However, λόγος is a big word to unpack.
I took a several semesters of Greek in college, and λόγος quickly became my favorite Greek word. I’m sure that most young scholars with a basic grasp of Greek grammar and delusions that they are budding philosophers develop a similar love affair with λόγος (I was a little weird in college, y’all). Philosophers use λόγος to mean reason, dialectic or argument. Theologians use λόγος to describe the Word of God. In fact, λόγος is the Greek word that is used when the Gospel of John talks about “The Word made flesh.” Because of its close connection to ideas of rational thought, I’ve even seen it loosely translated as “ratio.” It’s a word that means “word,” but it also connects concepts of reason and spirituality. I am a classic example of a recovering Catholic, so spirituality has always been a difficult concept for me, so a word that is so loaded with both rational and spiritual meaning will remind me to grow in both of those directions. The fact that it automatically pops into my head when I hear about One Word projects is a good sign that I need to spend more time thinking about λόγος. Interpret that last sentence as you will.