When I chose “renaissance” as my word of the year for 2023, I didn’t expect it to manifest in the way that it did.

It started as a word mostly focused in my plans for my design business. I wanted to reinvent myself and renew my commitment to it. Instead, I found myself burnt out by March, and every subsequent attempt to revive it hasn’t yet come to fruition.

With those plans on pause, I was still surprised to find how much the word has remained relevant throughout the year regardless.

Of course, the biggest way I have been reborn this year comes in the form of my recent autism diagnosis. Suddenly so many questions about myself have been answered, but even more questions have been revealed. It’s been a real journey of self-discovery that is nowhere near over yet. I’m also currently being assessed for ADHD, after it was suggested as a possibility during my autism assessments. By early next year I should have more of a complete picture of how my brain works and how it affects my life. I have a new piece of my identity, not only as an autistic woman, but also as someone who creeps further into the category of “disabled.”

I have a lot of work to do to help settle into these new areas of myself, which is why I think the theme of renaissance is one that I will continue to carry over the next few years. Maybe longer.

Another big area of change has been in my body. Talking about body image and weight can be such a loaded topic so I don’t want to go into it in too much detail. But in June I took matters into my hands and started taking a medication to help me manage my weight. In around 6 months I’ve lost 40lbs, and with that comes a lot more conflicting feelings. I’m adjusting to a different physical form and all that comes with that. I feel a mix of happiness over feeling better in myself, with a fear that it will all backfire and I’ll end up where I was or worse again. It’s a lifelong struggle, and I’ve been in this place before, only for everything to go back the way it was.

For now I’m just trying to balance my excitement over edging into the more accessible clothing sizes while mourning the loss of some seriously cute dresses I own that are now too big for me. Not that they’re gone, and maybe when things start to calm down and balance out I will revisit them and find ways for them to rejoin my wardrobe.

I’ve always been very bad at keeping up routines and doing things consistently. Last year I was proud of myself for doing the One Second Everyday project. I didn’t do it EVERY day, but I did it more often than not. This year, Kate has been doing it with me which has been fun, but I’ve definitely missed more days. But I have another thing I’ve been keeping up with, which is Spanish on Duolingo. I currently have a streak of 240 days. I know that I will need to break it at some point, and I’m considering breaking it purposefully at the 1 year mark, just so it doesn’t become something I stress over too much. But still, the idea of doing something every day for so long has always been so unattainable for me that regardless of anything it’s already a great accomplishment for me!

There are plenty of other ways that this word has served me but I think those are the most tangible ones. Like I say, I’m not sure I’ll even pick a new word for 2024 because I think renaissance still applies. It feels right, and my life feels right, in a way it hasn’t always felt.