We live kinetic lives with diverse interests, diverse needs, diverse activities. And every day, we get to choose what will define our hyphenate lifestyles.

I grew up a hyphenate. I was never Ann, never Eve. Always Ann-Eve. My hyphen was a vital connection point between two parts which were equally important, making up the whole of who I was. Ann-Eve.

When I heard people referred to as hyphenates (actor-director, wife-mother, MD-PhD), I could relate instantly and embraced the concept as more than just a common element with my name.

I was never one of those people who knew what I “wanted to be when I grew up.” I envied people with a strong vision of their future – a plan that they simply executed, a straight path while my own path seemed hopelessly twisted and winding. One day I wanted to be a doctor, one day a teacher, one day an artist. One day I wanted a family and life in the city – the next, solitary life in the country with a horse, dogs and goats. I loved art and science, drawing and writing. And then I realized one day that I didn’t need to choose a straight path. I had a tiny, straight line – a hyphen – that helped me to do all of those things.

A hyphen, in practice, is just a tiny line. But the purpose it serves is far greater than the mark on paper. It brings together elements that create a new and altogether unique whole. I have embraced being a hyphenate, one that reflects my diverse interests coming together to form what I feel is a rich, full life. My hyphenate is ever-changing. Today, I may be a fundraiser-photographer-writer-martial artist. Tomorrow? Perhaps I will be a standup comedian-volunteer-dog mom. Who knows?

What is your hyphenate?