The most important lesson I learned in 2020 was the weight and power that words carry. There were times throughout the year that I did not use the voice God gave me and I paid for my silence. As one of the newest members of the Empty Nest Club, I carried intense guilt for every memory of harsh or unkind words said in the general direction of my children as they grew up. New words were introduced that were foreign to me but impacted the world on a large scale.
A predominate part of my personality is that I am better with words in writing than I am with speech. As I embraced writing the news full time in the latter part of 2020, I had to quickly adapt to using my actual vocal cords instead of only showing my wit and wisdom through New Times Roman font sized 12. I made the earlier part of my news writing unnecessarily hard because I convinced myself that I was not capable of sounding professional in person or over the phone. My life and health were not where they could be because I could not force myself to verbalize what was wrong.
My youngest son was the final child to leave the next in the fall of 2020. In the back of my mind, I never expected him to move out. When he packed his bags and went off toward his own adventures, I was wracked with guilt of every perceived parental failure. I have an excellent relationship with all my children, so I had to learn that the mental torture was my own doing with no real basis in fact. My inner monologue turned from trying to keep track of my car keys and cell phone to a well-fed monster of regrets. That beast is going on a diet in 2021.
Prior to 2020 I had never heard the expression ‘social distancing’. As I am a product of the South, the expression itself was an oxymoron. Like the expression I learned in 2017, alternative facts, my belief in the power of words stuttered as they started to make less sense to me. As a writer, if I could not trust the words I read, or the words I wrote, what could I possibly give back to the world? It became a constant reminder that I had to choose each word and phrase with care because I certainly did not like it when I could not trust someone else’s.
As I get ready to enter not just a new year, but a new phase of my life, I will continuously work on using my voice and ensuring that what I say and write is not only accurate but necessary. Wasted words belong in edits, and I have not yet figured out how to do that with words that have left my mouth.