In sixth grade I was placed in the honors program at my school. They called us gifted, but I believe it was more along the lines of showing boredom in the classroom so they wanted to push us harder. I appreciate that looking back as it ignited within me a deeper longing to discover more about who I was as a person.
One part of the honors curriculum was preparing to take the PSAT and learning 500 words and their definitions. These were SAT-level words which we had to know multiple definitions for, their correct spelling as well as their use in language. It was an arduous task but one that I thrived in completing. It’s in my genes, having a mother who transcribed for doctors for more than 45 years. I was fascinated with meanings and usages of words.
I learned through that process one word can have an array of meanings, especially in context and usage. For many of us we try to make one word define us entirely, putting us in a box or living into one conformed meaning. In reality our lives, who we are and what we are created to be requires multiple words that have complex definitions and applications.
I used to let the term SINGLE put me in a box. I used to let it define me by how others interpreted it, wrote on it, used it and applied it. Quickly I was living their definition of SINGLE and not my own. I let it tell me that being SINGLE meant I was constantly kept from enjoying life. That I was to commit to long hours at my job. That I was to pine away and be okay with missing out on things because of my marital status.
My marital status does not define me. Not solely. It is in fact way down on the descriptors of who I am, what I am, the person I am living into and desire to be. There’s been a dramatic shift in my perceptions and my living when I stopped allowing others define me (in so many ways beyond just the one I am touching on here). Most importantly I realized that SINGLE isn’t a means of defiance on relationships, nor is it a stigma to be attached to a person, nor is it a binding agent segregating a population of individuals to be “lesser than” others who are not SINGLE.
For me when I now mark SINGLE in boxes the definition is more in tune with the verb form use of the word for me: choosing someone from a group for special treatment. It is not a definition of me. Of the person I am. It is an action. Because for me, and what I hope is true for you too, is that we stop being defined and start defining. We put action to our lives, to our words, to our hearts. We reinvent the definitions that have locked us in, kept us out, or shamed us into a box.
May we start living out what we desire for our lives, what we were created to be…only then can we decide what words define us.