2020 Word of the Year: Gray

My 2020 word of the year is gray because I want to live more in the gray areas of life. My usually black-or-white thinking led to frustration.

I love the fresh start of a new year. This year is even more exciting since it’s the start of a new decade. I’ve been working with a therapist for the past few months. One thing that we are focusing on is changing how I see things in life. My thinking tends to be very black or white. Either I’ve succeeded at something or it’s a failure. Either the day is productive or it’s a wash. I’m either eating healthy and exercising or I’m eating junk food constantly. There’s not much middle ground in my mind, at least not for myself.

That’s where my 2020 word of the year comes in: Gray. It seems like a weird word for something like this, but I need to learn to see the gray matter. If I miss a workout or two, I don’t have to give up completely. If I wake up grumpy, the whole day doesn’t have to be hell. And if I don’t accomplish a set of goals, it doesn’t mean the day was worthless. One negative event doesn’t have to change the entire day from good to bad. The world is not one or the other.

Why I Chose Gray as My 2020 Word of the Year

This past decade was by far the most life-changing period of my life. I graduated from college, got married, started my first grown-up job, bought a house, started this blog, had a baby, became a stay-at-home mom, and had another baby. With all of that change and growth, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised that I was a bit shell-shocked. I felt lost this year.

I’m no longer earning an income, so I didn’t feel like I was contributing to my household. There are days when I got mad at the kids and yelled, so I didn’t feel like a good mom. I felt sad, listless, and tired. I believe a lot of those feelings came from having a baby and adjusting to life with two kids, but knowing where they came from didn’t make them go away.

With time, my postpartum depression started to lift a little. It returned on difficult days due to my PMDD. And I realized that I needed help. I wanted tools to combat the feelings of inadequacy and disappointment that I felt constantly. I also wanted to figure out to how to get out of my funks that would settle in and disrupt life for a few days.

How Therapy Has Helped Me This Year

In October, after my trip to Disney, I started going to therapy. I felt happier and more like myself but was still struggling more frequently than I liked. It definitely took getting out of the fog a bit to realize and accept that I needed some help.

Therapy hasn’t been like what’s on TV or in the movies, at least not for me. It almost feels like accountability or life coaching a lot of the time. We talk about the time between sessions and whenever I’ve felt sad or funky, then break down the trigger. More often than not the trigger is an issue that I see as this or that, but it’s somewhere in between. We had a chill pajama day at home one day, so the day was wasted. The next day my negative feelings about my “wasted” day made me frustrated, so I retreated to the couch and my phone. Then I actually wasted a day doing nothing and the cycle continued.

By thinking of the gray area, I can have a chill pajama day and do nothing. Then the next day I can wake up feeling rested and refreshed and get back to my routine. 

word of the year2020 Word of the Year

Sometimes I don’t even think of issues as all or nothing until my therapist points them out, or I reflect on my grumpy mood. In fact, as I’m writing this post I realize that I’ve been struggling with this during our Christmas break. I’ve been staying in PJs most of the day and just sitting around. I’ve also been hella grumpy and frustrated. The break is going by so quickly and we haven’t “done anything.”

In reality, we have done things. We’ve spent time together, gone out to lunch, made Target runs, visited with family, and taken down the Christmas tree. But I have a hard time seeing that. It’s gray matter because most of it isn’t productive. Instead of enjoying my break and time with my family, I’ve spent it being grumpy. Now that I realize that, I owe my family an apology and I need to try to enjoy the last few days of this break.

2020 Word of the Year

Embrace the Gray

This year, and this decade, I want to learn to embrace the gray area. I want to find a balance between relaxation and productivity. I want to be able to appreciate pajama days without being upset with myself for days. And, probably most of all, I want to learn how to bounce back. I need to be able to rest or not finish a to-do list, accept it, and jump back in the next day instead of beating myself up. Black or white thinking has led to years of discouragement, frustration, and lack of motivation. My hope is that my 2020 word of the year: GRAY will lead to contentment, understanding, and accomplishment. 

More Words of the Year

2021: Relearn

2022: Intentional

2023: Identity


  1. So insightful! I think a lot of women do this (myself included), and I can definitely relate to many of the same things, as I’m also a SAHM (I just had my third last month) and have to redefine what “success” looks like for me. Thanks so much for sharing the more vulnerable parts of your journey!

  2. ashley, i relate to this on SO MANY LEVELS!! you are not alone and i need to think a little more about the gray area, too. i know this next decade will be amazing for us!

  3. That sounds like the perfect word for the year!! Love this new perspective!

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