“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year”. This year that word is TOXIC.
“Toxic” has many strings – toxic waste, toxic poisoning and the like. And events around these issues have facilitated the word’s rise to the top of the most-used pile.
But what resonates with me most is that “toxic” came up regularly in the discussion of environment (particularly in the workplace) and relationships. The global #MeToo campaign also contributed to the popularity of this word when it elicited discussions around toxic masculinity. Unlike toxic waste or poison, this type of toxicity is not always visible to the naked eye or discernible even to those with the noblest of intentions. Human toxicity can be insidious and difficult to acknowledge and interrogate.
In my world, 2018 was a year with a bit too much toxic workplace, toxic relationships and toxic masculinity. That this is the word of the year is a sign the universe is speaking to me. It was my #MeToo moment. Suddenly many things became clear and palpable. I tasted the toxicity on the tip of my tongue and felt it on my skin. And as I played with the word in my mind and said it out loud I was able to let the inner rage, trauma and sorrow go – finally.
Big dick energy
And the universe was not done with its lesson. Oxford Living Dictionaries also shared six runner-up words: “gaslighting” and “big dick energy” were two of them. The latter had me laughing for a full 12 minutes! I’ve dealt with that too this year. Big time.
I’ve written recently about anxiety and workplace misogyny. Much of that was linked to the toxicity I was drowning in for the most part of this year. My freelance journey in 2018 has been nothing short of eventful. It was traumatic at times, downright frightening at others. But I emerged, bruised yet hopeful. And more importantly, I emerged hungry – to succeed.
As we head into 2019 where the challenges in a lagging economy are going to be many and will test my resolve, I, nevertheless, am optimistic. I’ve said it before – freelancing and being your own boss is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes we work in our PJs all day not because it’s cool, but because there are never enough hours to sweat the small stuff.
Yet, in spite of the many challenges, freelancing is where my heart is. So “toxic” be damned. My story is my own and I will write my ending. It’s not a fairytale. It will be messy and funny too. But it will be as toxic-free as I can make it. Cheers to 2019.