Opinion:The problem with definitions

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson is a senior architecture major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

All of our lives, we have been — and will continue to be — defined by various choices and affiliations, including, but not limited to: family, friends, clothing, material possessions and preferred type of beer. Some labels will be sought, others will be achieved and an even greater amount will be bequeathed by others, without one’s knowledge or provocation. Now, we can choose to embrace or reject whatever labels we acquire over the years, but no matter what, they will still be present, and often quite prominent, all because we, myself included, are judgmental.

Everyone else seems to have the single piece of advice that, if you listened and obeyed, would better your life. You need to work faster, sleep more, eat better, dump him, marry her and so on. This advice is generously and frequently doled out, in spite of the fact that, that individual may have an issue or two in his or her own life to deal with.

Even when we choose to accept a certain label such as wife, mother, friend, brother, athlete or daughter, there is still fine print, an etiquette that must be followed. When you enter into a new relationship, it is taboo to immediately tell your significant other that you love him or her. In fact, that is grounds to end a relationship; it’s not acceptable to become “too serious too soon.”

Well, if this standard was carried out religiously, my parents would not be together. Both of them were in the Air Force when they met, and my father was being deployed to Korea within the year. This meant that they had a choice to make: abstain from pursuing a relationship, continue a relationship after he returned or get married.

In spite of knowing each other only briefly, and having no plans for the future — which the pastor who performed the ceremony reminded them was not a good idea — they were engaged within 13 days and married soon after. They remain together to this day, and recently celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. Despite the fact that this story is very near and dear to my heart, I am frequently reminded that this is not usually the case — that they are the exception, not the rule.

But it’s not just in how we handle relationships that others pass judgment; it is also prominent in everything else we choose to pursue. How long does it have to be before we can passionately show our love for a sport, activity, group or other person?

I lived in Florence for only a short four months, after which I wanted to get a tattoo of the city’s symbol — a very permanent memento. It was such an important part of my life, so why can’t I choose to express it in that way? I have been told that if it meant that much to me, I could bring home a figurine or shirt to remind me of my time there.

So at the risk of being a hypocrite, don’t judge too harshly what another person finds important or meaningful because I can promise you that there is something that you feel equally as strong about.

Ryan Sampson is a senior architecture major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]