We live hyper-kinetic lives with diverse interests, diverse needs, diverse activities. Every day, we get to choose what defines us.

While a hyper-kinetic lifestyle means is that some days I need to hug a puppy and take a nap, it also means that I have to be — get to be — many people at once: writer-photographer-animal rescuer-friend-daughter-aunt-sister-entrepreneur and a million more roles hyphenated together to form one “Ann-Eve.”

My name is a hyphenate. I am a hyphenate.

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 of people referred to as hyphenates (actor-director, wife-mother, MD-PhD), I could relate instantly and embraced the concept as more than just a punctuation mark.

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 non-linear, 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 I finally realized that I didn’t need to choose a straight path. I had a tiny line – a hyphen – that allowed me to do all of those things.

A hyphen is, in fact, 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?