Our 2023 Words of the Year

Words to live by this year

Northern Arizona University
11 min readJan 26, 2023

We’re all about setting goals, resolutions and habits for the new year. Even more so, our team loves words. A good word can serve as a mantra, a reminder of what all our goals and resolutions are aiming toward.

Here’s what our NAU Social chose for their 2023 Words of the Year — one word for their personal goals and one word to reflect their attitudes toward social media.

McKinley Burnett — sophomore

Personal + social word = Learning

I know ‘learning’ might sound cliché because I am a college student, but let me elaborate. In all honesty, I felt that I’ve had more ‘exciting’ or ‘Instagrammable’ years in the past. Last year was all about building and learning a lot about what I want for myself — from jobs, employers and friends.

Last year was about growing up. Don’t worry though, I didn’t leave behind the fun part of being a child.

In the past year I’ve learned, grown and experienced how you should be treated in a workplace. Through students, classes and clubs, I’ve learned so much! Trust me, not all of that would fit into this paragraph! Thank you, NAU.

After personally using social media for so long, then starting to do it as a job, I and so many others around me have gained confidence. We all know that social media can be harsh sometimes. Beauty standards, trolls, and vast amounts of people and interactions can hurt or be toxic. Although there is that side of social media, I’ve personally become so much more confident as well as seen others on my team grow.

That’s not all credit to social media itself, that’s also been possible because I’ve had such an amazing, supportive team along the way!

We all build each other up, which is really nice when you’re working in a creative job.

Overall, receiving positive feedback about projects from people in the team or even through comments or reposts, it’s nice to know your post may have made an impact.

Even more than that — is being able to look at your growth through past projects.

I can tell I’ve learned; I can do things a lot quicker but also make better quality content which is rewarding and makes me want to keep creating.

Maria DeCabooter — Assistant Director

Personal & social word = Adaptable

2023 marks my tenth anniversary at NAU. What’s all happened since I started the day after the Superbowl in 2013?

On the work front — we’ve seen the rise of video storytelling and emergence of new platforms. Hi TikTok & Snapchat 👋🏼

We’ve seen platforms disappear — RIP Vine 🪦

And we’ve seen the main three shift in their prominence and usage: Facebook (I know it’s actually Meta), Instagram and Twitter.

I can’t forget Pinterest and LinkedIn too — thanks for being your authentic selves and being reliable in a state of constant change.

I went from talking online to a few thousand people — Facebook was our largest audience at 18K and our Instagram had only three posts and less than one hundred — to now publishing content that reaches hundreds of thousands a week.

On a personal front — I’ve grown. I’ve grown up and my family has grown too. When I started my family consisted of my husband and dog, Dixie. Since then Kona’s come into our lives and we added two human children too — Michaela (now eight) and Arthur (almost 10 months).

What does working in social media and being a mom have in common? More than you know 😂

Even though I’ve been in social media for more than a decade — I can honestly say no year, no week, no day is ever the same. Algorithms change, new technologies emerge, platforms enter and leave the game. I’ve never felt like an expert at what I do because of the state of constant change.

As a mom, I also know no day will ever be the same. One kid might wake up happy and the other not so much. One might like what I cook for dinner and the other might throw it on the floor.

When there’s always constant flux — I always come back to the word adaptable.

It’s ok if Plan A doesn’t work. It’s ok if a post didn’t perform like we thought. Being adaptable is learning to think beyond what’s expected. It’s being ok with mistakes and knowing that failure is also part of the process. What makes you adaptable is getting back up again.

In my case — whether it’s tackling a new social format or trying different strategies to get my kids to bed earlier — it’s all trial and error.

All I can do is try my best and be adaptable for whatever may come my way.

Michelle Barichello — Social Media Manager

Personal word: Proud

For years, my goal has been to be more confident. Every year it’s a struggle for me, but now I’m realizing that maybe confidence comes from striving for something else: feeling proud of myself. I always feel good when I push myself at work, in a workout, or in doing something that is outside of my comfort zone. That’s when I’m proud of myself. I feel more confident as a result.

This year I want to be proud of who I am — a mother, wife, daughter, friend, employee, writer, and Swiftie. I want to be proud of the work I do. I will be proud of my toddler and all of his quirks. I will do what I need to feel proud of my efforts at the end of the day.

Social word: Agile

Social media is an ever-changing industry. New platforms come up, tried-and-true platforms can fall apart, and the quiet ones in the background sometimes rise to the forefront.

In social media, we need to be agile in staying on top of the trends on our favorite platforms as well as keeping an eye on what platforms are currently trending.

We need to be ready to switch gears if needed, to try new things and adapt our strategy

Suzanna Low — sophomore

Personal word: Healthy

I choose this word because social media is a humongous digital world that has no bounds.

Plenty of algorithms are meant to lure and trap you into spending an unhealthy amount of time than what is necessary.

Having a healthy boundary and relationship with social media is important to me because if you don’t stop the bad habits on platforms, the platforms definitely won’t stop you.

I’m hoping to have better relationships and habits on social media platforms. It’s easy to get into rabbit holes, careless scrolling, and changing yourself for the platforms.

I’d love to learn my own bad habits and change my ways to have a better relationship to platforms. And potentially helping other people with their boundaries on platforms would be even better.

I think people should be aware and be able to have good and healthy relationships with social media. It would do everyone some good.

Social word: Connection

Social media is the newest and fastest way that people have been staying informed and continuing all sorts of networks. The connection that forms through social media is unstoppable when people click.

I choose this word because social media users firsthand see how great the connection can be thanks to it. It’s a complex yet simple method of connection that bonds people anywhere from a few individuals to millions at a time.

I don’t ever see the interactions and activities stopping any time soon on social media. I can only see the connections getting stronger as 2023 continues and even past that.

Connection is important to my job as a social media intern as it is what keeps an audience. I want to be as authentic to my company’s goals and help regular users stay informed and enjoy regular content to view. I’ll always strive for real authentic connections because that’s what users want in all forms of content.

Darvin Descheny — Social Media Coordinator

Personal word: Release

After experiencing a global pandemic, political polarization and economic challenges, it is almost hard to choose a word for 2023. However, amidst it all I can only think of one word: “release.”

According to Dictionary.com, “release” is defined as a verb: “allow (something) to move, act or flow freely. To escape from confinement; set free.”

I selected “release” because it can be interpreted in many impactful ways. Release your anger, release your soul, release the stress, release your energy, release the pain, release your love, release the rest.

With this word, I hope to let go of stress, set more love free, maybe even allow myself to escape from the harsh realities of the world by releasing my energy through dance.

“Release” will allow me to understand that it’ll be alright, even in the toughest of times. None of us know what is to come in 2023, but if we allow ourselves to release pain, joy, love and energy, we will be alright.

Social word: Unconstrained

The Internet has continued to evolve over the last decade. Gone are the days of chat rooms, Farmville and plethora of YouTube influencers. We move forward with TikToks, global viral videos and news stories, and a new effort to use the Internet to promote social change and hold people (and sometimes businesses) accountable.

This leads me to choose the word “unconstrained” to describe my thoughts on social media. I picked this word because it means nothing is held back or limited.

As we head into a challenging decade, it is critical to hold nothing back. We need unconstrained creativity, unconstrained opinions, unconstrained coverage of world events, and unconstrained hope.

I believe many things will happen in 2023 and it is important that we capture those moments from many different perspectives. Whether we react with unconstrained joy, fear, hope, satire, humor or anger, our collective voice will contribute to a large, progressive conversation.

Here’s to 2023, and what memes, news stories and social change we cultivate this year!

Janelle Dela Cruz — senior

Personal word: Consistency

I have set many wellness related resolutions for myself this new year and the key to achieving all my goals is consistency. When my schedule becomes overwhelming and things come up unexpectedly, I struggle to stay consistent with things that will inevitably benefit my mental and physical health.

Two of the biggest things I want to achieve this year are going to the gym 5 days a week and reading for 30 minutes every day. I want these things to become habits in my lifestyle and the best way to become this disciplined is through consistency. Having a consistent gym schedule and time of the day that I read will provide structure to my everyday life and improve my mental health in the process.

Social word: Growth

With this being my last semester at NAU, it is my last chance to learn as much as I can on the NAU Social team. I would like to grow each and every week to ensure that I am adding to my portfolio and developing skills that I will no longer have this space to practice in after graduating.

Growing the confidence within my social media presence at NAU and in my personal life is also very important to me. When looking at social media trends in today’s world, I predict that people will strive to be more authentic on their personal social media accounts in the coming year.

There are trends around how people are perceived by their friends, 0.5 lens pictures of small parts in a daily routine, and influencers recommending their favorite products to their TikTok followers to avoid “gate-keeping.”

I believe people are reaching a new level of transparency on social media as trends foster more authentic communication and content so users will feel a push to use less filters, feel less pressure toward perfection with posts, and even care less about their captions. This environment was foreshadowed when Instagram added the option to hide the like count on feed posts.

I am excited to grow in my social media presence and watch the social media world grow as well. Growth is important in society and it will make social media feel more fun as we continue to enjoy all of our new experiences in 2023!

Gwyneth Abella, Senior

Social Word : Experience

My goal for this year in social media is to gain experience.

Go out there and just experience more, make more memories, do things I have never done before and get the most out of this social media internship as I can.

I want to be able to upgrade my social media and post more often. In the past year, I would barely post because I did not like the idea of everyone knowing what I was doing at anytime.

But, in 2023 I want to show people what I’m doing, how I’m doing and where I am going.

Personal : Change

My personal goal for this year is change. With graduation around the corner, I can already feel the change that is going to happen for me this year. These four years really did just go by in a blink of an eye. Soon, I will be moving to a different state, working at a big girl job, and being in the real world.

Although, half of me is scared for what’s to come, the other half is excited. Remember, both feelings are normal when going through a big transition in your life.

I want to remind myself and other people reading this that change can be scary but beautiful at the same time and leave with a quote.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Do you have a word for 2023? Share it with us!



Northern Arizona University

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