"Human beings are infinitely complex, and to reduce that complexity to a single label, a single story, or a single identity is not only to do them a disservice but to rob ourselves of the opportunity to truly understand and appreciate the vast tapestry of human experience." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I want to say this about pronouns and our current cultural obsession with them.
A pronoun is but one small piece of what makes us who we are. It's a single component that doesn't tell the exquisitely complex story of human life. It's a narrowing of who we are and how we relate.
We are also nouns, adjectives, and verbs. We are multitudes that form sentences, forming coherent paragraphs, and those paragraphs run together into stories. Those stories are woven together in chapters of our lives. And by the time our life here on earth is done, we are volumes.
A "she" is also a sister, a daughter, and a friend. She is inquisitive, friendly, curious, quirky, irritable, loud, and sometimes arrogant. Nonetheless, she is kind. She has occasionally been brave. Educated, irascible, wealthy, and artistic -- she may be those, too.
There are hundreds of words that describe who she is and how she relates to the world and others. More than the pronoun, she is her verbs -- the actions she takes in life. Does she hide behind fear? Sometimes. In other moments she may rise to the occasion and be brave.
She is the composite of countless actions. What's certain is that she is nothing if she does not act. It's when she acts that she is painted with all of the other wonderful and descriptive terms that give us a fuller picture of all that she is b/c she is much more than "she".
The culmination of our actions and reactions form sentences, paragraphs and stories. She becomes the hero in the life of a friend she saved. She becomes the bully to the girl in the classroom that had no friends and poor fashion sense. She is defined by actions.
Still, she transforms over time to learn from her mistakes, forgiving herself along the way, or else she wallows in self-pity for years, cycling through periods of self-love followed by backsliding into periods of self-hate. She suffers from the eternal swing from light to dark.
These stories form chapters in our lives, each marking different forms and identities that she takes. She evolves, as all things do, to include the abundance of experiences and string them together into the epics that define the totality of who she was, is, and will become.
Her eternal transformation is far from describable in a single term. She was countless things to countless people and morphed through unpredictable chapters of a continuously evolving narrative that we can life. She is much more than simply "she."
To define the fullness of ourselves by a pronoun alone is to forsake the richness of what makes us ... us. It cuts the story short before it can be told. It neuters the narrative of our lives by reducing us down to bleakness -- a vast open landscape marked by a few lone trees.
Yes, a pronoun is a part of who we are. It runs as a throughline across the full landscape of our lives. But it is not all we are. It does not explain our symphonies. It does not honor the rest of what makes us human. A pronoun is but a few strokes on an unbounded canvas.
Yes, we must recognize and honor the role of the pronoun in someone's story. It's a part of who we are. But we cannot allow the pronoun alone to fully define us. Our human experience is more abundant than that. And we must not force others to view us through such a stifled view.
Nor should we solely view ourselves through that limited perspective. To do so, and to over-attach our past, present, and future to "she" will limit all of the other descriptors that she can become, for her verbs define her more than her pronouns.
For those that hang their life story on the altar of a pronoun, I hope that you can see that you're much more than that. And to honor yourself, and the story of your life, by recognizing that it's but one part of what makes you. And that others can't be defined so simply either.
"The human experience is a symphony of countless voices, each singing its own song, creating a harmonious chorus of shared humanity." - Aldus Huxley