Every single year, since 2008, I have been choosing a "word of the year". And, each year, I find myself cringing at the words that leap at me, as if saying, "Listen up! This is it. This is the word that you need to think and do something about this year." And, I often end up wondering why on earth I'd choose that word.
Yes, for four years running, I haven't chosen a word yet that I feel comfortable with. And, for that very reason, I know that they've been the right word to face for the year. I guess, I've come to look at my WotYs as personal challenges. A way to get out of my comfort zone.
And this year, the word that got to me is SHINE.
... Of all the crazy, self-serving, narcissistic, pompous, arrogant things...
I know, I know... I've thought of all the words that seem to belong in that descriptive group when this word popped up on my radar late in 2010. I guess, the word 'shine' just felt way too self-serving to me at first glance.
So, again, I questioned the sanity of choosing a word that makes my stomach turn and my skin crawl. But, precisely because of that reaction, I knew I had to take notice.
You see, the whole idea of being in the spotlight makes me uncomfortable. So, I freak and panic every time I find myself somewhere in that vicinity.
For example, during an event where I was recently a part of - and I got some really cool acknowledgment from a number of noteworthy folks - I found myself cringing. The person sitting next to me during one of my public acknowledgments chuckled and asked, "Why did you lean back and move away when X mentioned you?" I said that I didn't even realise that I did it. It was an automatic physical reaction that I didn't expect.
At another important event where I facilitated a group filled with interesting folks from around the globe, someone asked me if I wanted to be introduced to the group - to let them know who I am and what I've done. I declined and opted for a simple self introduction that didn't blow any kind of trumpet. A few people who knew me a bit better than others later asked me why I didn't give folks a more accurate description of who I was and/or what I did. They said that by downplaying my background, I wasn't giving people the opportunity to sit up and listen to what I have to say.
And, I was baffled. It's awkward to admit it, but that whole concept is really a tough challenge for me.
It seems weird, coming from a social media enthusiast / personal blogger who writes a lot about ME, ME, ME... After all, isn't that what blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking/YouTubing/self portraiture/etc are all about? Getting the spotlight as much as possible?
In a way, perhaps. But, every time I try to go back to how and why I started in this path, I know that it's mostly about communicating and connecting, rather than "flashing" - if that makes any sense.
So, I ventured in to finding ways to understand what the word SHINE really means to me.
Then, I came across these meanings:
- "to (cause to) give out light; to direct light towards someone or something"
- "to be bright by causing to give out rays of light"
And somehow, something clicked.
To shine doesn't necessarily mean to dazzle or to bask in centrestage.
To shine may mean that through our own light, we may be able to give light to others.
Now, that idea resonates with me both on a personal and professional level.
I like the thought of doing great things so that others can do great things.
Yes, it's not all about me. But, I'm seeing that I have to start somewhere in me, so that I can help to empower others. After all, how can you give out light when your own light is out, right?
And, no, it's not about trying to be noble, humble, modest, or anything like that. It's probably mostly about trying to get over my own hang-ups about the whole concept of "shining" - and finding ways to use all that.
So yes, I'm curious to know where this year's WotY will take me. I know the previous ones* have really been powerful enough to change a lot of things in my life at the time.
Now, let's see how I can embrace my inner rock star - so that I can start helping to make others shine too. 😉