Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

Word of the Year. For some people, that may be a foreign phrase. For others, choosing a guiding word to inspire their actions throughout the next year may be a favorite New Year’s tradition - and an upgrade to the usual New Year's resolution ideas. Personally, this is the first year I’m participating in the Word of the Year movement...

Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

...and what word felt the most "right" for my 2018 Word of the Year?

Discomfort. 

I know. At least in my experience, “discomfort” doesn’t fall in the normal realm of New Year intentions or Words of the Year, which typically involve inspirational, faith-based or motivational terms like “growth,” “grace,” “hustle,” etc. Discomfort doesn’t even have a positive connotation or definition to grasp onto. It's literally defined as "an absence of comfort or ease." 

Yet, as I reflected on 2017 and mused possible good New Year's resolutions and what I'd like to change in 2018, the word “discomfort” popped into my mind right away. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my unique context - being a grad student in her 20s with fibromyalgia and celiac disease - is probably responsible for this 2018 Word of the Year being the perfect fit. 

Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

Because, honestly, I’ve been experiencing discomfort since age 11 - and that’s only when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Doctors have even hypothesized that I cried so much as a baby because I was in constant pain.


I don’t say this to receive pity. I’m just stating a fact: when you have fibromyalgia or chronic pain, discomfort is a way of life. Even when you find fibromyalgia treatments - like following a gluten free diet, using joint health supplements or finding the right exercise routine for you - that reduce your pain, discomfort is always hiding in the background. As I’ve shared before, fibromyalgia may be an invisible illness, but it appears in my everyday life in numerous ways. And, even when you’re doing everything “right,” fibromyalgia flare-ups happen.

Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

The more I thought about discomfort as my Word of the Year, though, the more I realized that discomfort doesn’t have to be as negative of a term as we often think.

Discomfort can mean putting yourself out there - whether by trying a new fitness class, asking an acquaintance if they’d like to meet up for coffee or applying to a job you’d love to have but aren’t sure you could get. 

Discomfort can also be part of the growing process; think of growing pains. Just like growing taller can be physically painful, progress - in work, relationships, health or otherwise - can be painful too. I only have to think back to my first full-time job or my first semester of grad school to know that. 

Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

And, to be blunt, discomfort can help shape you into a major badass. I’m constantly amazed by how much people with huge challenges can accomplish. My best friend with fibromyalgia and a few other chronic illnesses spent her Christmas break doing a medical missionary trip to Kenya - that she got full funding for. (Can you say #girlboss?). Lady Gaga certainly hasn’t let chronic pain dampen her creativity - or her dancing moves. And, as challenging as going to grad school and teaching college has been with two chronic illnesses, I’m doing it! 
It’s hard to say who I would be if fibromyalgia, and the discomfort associated with it, hadn’t always been a regular part of my life. Life would have probably been easier to some extent. Maybe I’d have less medications in my daily pill box, need less than 10+ hours of sleep a night and be able to conquer even more extreme athletic challenges. But I might also be less empathetic and understanding of others’ pain. Perhaps I’d even be less determined and strong without the daily challenges of chronic pain to overcome. 

Why I Chose "Discomfort" for My 2018 Word of the Year as Someone with Fibromyalgia

All I know is that, this year, I want to do more than simply accept discomfort as a regular part of my life.

I want to embrace discomfort -  in social situations, my college class, my grad school courses, my chronic illnesses and just the chaotic time of my early 20’s - as much as I can.

I’ve talked before about reclaiming and redefinining “dis-ability.” Maybe that’s what 2018 will be for me: crafting a new understanding of discomfort, and paying attention to how it both complicates and benefits my life every day. 



Have you chosen a 2018 Word of the Year, or have done so in previous years? What memories or thoughts does the word “discomfort” trigger for you? Tell me in the comments! 

Comments

  1. More than anything else, this word and blog entry just reveals the courage of your character :) I wish you the strength to be able to participate fully in life x

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  2. I too suffer from Fibromyalsia and the endless chronic pain and fatigue that comes with it, but I have come to realize that you can't let the dis-ability define who you are. Maybe you have a bad day, so take it as it comes you always have tomorrow and tomorrow will be a better day! Thank you so much for sharing this ๐Ÿ˜Š Erica LoGalbo

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