2023 Word of the Year: Germinate

by Kate Mazariegos

Last year, I chose my word of the year to be uncomfortable. I am proud of that word and of the work that I put into it, and how it shaped me. I started a business, and left a job that while I loved it, while I was comfortable in it, it was not my calling. It was not who I knew I was meant to be, nor was it leading me down the path I knew I was supposed to be on. I think I kind of always knew that, but that discussion is a post for another day. But always knowing that, and not acting on it, was in direct relationship with my fondness for comfort—for security and stability. I didn’t always have that, and I spent most of my life in the pursuit of it, not realizing the ways in which it was crippling me.

Fast-forward to December 2022, and I am reflecting back on the year as most of us do. I start thinking of my word of the year for 2023, acknowledging how effective and life-changing it had been in 2022. But I was in my busiest season of life yet, and I just did not feel like I had the time to devote to it. And maybe uncomfortable would just be my life motto, and any more words of the year, at least for the time being, were unnecessary. Making yourself uncomfortable, within reason, leads you to growth. Who doesn’t want to spend their life growing and learning and thriving?

Then, the first week of January, I was scrolling Instagram as many of us do. No word of the year, and not really thinking of it anyway. But I stopped when I saw the new episode of the podcast Bloom with Bridget, who had guest speaker Caroline Clark on that week. Caroline had picked “discomfort” for her word of the year. Interesting, I thought, and I immediately wanted to hear more. I listened to the podcast that afternoon and was immediately inspired. At one point they started talking about plants, and seeds, and blooming. “Maybe blooming!” I thought.

In a way, I feel like I’m blooming—my business is growing, I’m more myself than I ever have been, I have all of these ideas and dreams, plans, goals, etc. I feel amazing. Isn’t that blooming? But something Bridget said made me rethink—am I really blooming? I have all of these ideas and dreams—when I reach those, that is when I will feel like I’m blooming, showing the world everything I have, and everything that I am capable of. And, I’m not there. Not yet. So where am I?

I feel like last year, planting the seed of my business, which quitting my job was a necessary part of, was the discomfort for me. The step I never wanted to take, that I felt I couldn’t take, was to just plant the seed and see what happened. What if it was a complete and utter dud? What if I just didn’t have the right amount of water, sun, or soil quality to make this thing happen? But I pushed myself towards my discomfort and planted the seed.

The ground was dug, the seed was planted. The earth was put back in its place, a dabbling of water applied. The “equation” for proper seed planting was followed and implemented, albeit shakily. That’s what I spent 2022 doing. But what do I plan on spending 2023 doing? It came to me, as I was listening to Bridget and Caroline talk, that my word would be “germination”.

I know, weird. That is not on any word of the year lists I’ve ever come across. Blooming is a beautiful word, a positive word that we all love. It brings the return of spring, of all things beautiful and colorful, topped off with sunshine and blue skies. But there is also delight before the bloom. The intricate processes that go on in the dirt, that germinate the plant, before we even start to see green. Watching a seed crack through its shell, shoot out roots as its foundation, and green sprouts as its roof, is just as wondrous as the bloom. And it may not be as obviously beautiful or astounding as the bloom it will one day produce, but it is a miracle in and of itself.

So as much as I want to race to the bloom, I am forcing myself to pull back and to appreciate and focus on the process of germination. I want to make sure I germinate my seed in all of the correct ways, so that the plant and blooms it will one day produce, are as strong as they can and deserve to be. I still have a lot of the dirty work to do, the work that no one really wants to do, the work that is not glorified as the bloom is glorified. And trying to get through that as quickly as possible ties back into returning to my comfort as quickly as possible.

So I want to continue making myself uncomfortable, to sit in my discomfort, to continue germination. For my comfort, I hope that it comes sooner rather than later. But, I am challenging myself to sit with the process of germination as long and uncomfortable as it may be, in order to grow the strong stems that will support unequivocally the flowers that will one day bloom.

And who knows what will bloom exactly? We put in all of the work, we plant the seed, do all of the things to help the plant properly germinate and then sprout. We have this idea of what we want to see, whether through a pin on Pinterest or a picture on the seed packet, but sometimes plants surprise us. The colors may be different, they may grow curvy or straight, in close, small bunches or spread out in large independent blooms. I know that I am ready for whatever it may be.

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