I like words. You have probably guessed this if you have read any of my posts, articles, or poetry floating around the interwebs (and on the two-dimensional page). I like words so much that I have built my livelihood around assembling them into strands with other words, more commonly known as sentences. Then I take those sentences and weave them together to make more or less coherent paragraphs and so on. The possibilities are endless.
As a word lover I spend a fair amount of time, maybe too much time, thinking about the words people use to describe themselves. A few posts ago, I contemplated how the word minimalism had shifted meaning for me and how, other than using it as shorthand for the uninitiated when the topic of lifestyle would come up, I could no longer use it to apply to the way I live. This week, I have been ruminating on the word survivor.
Survivor. What do you think when you hear the word? The television series (that I’ve never seen)? Or maybe something with more gravity like Holocaust survivor or cancer survivor? When I hear the word, in its most pedestrian usage, it’s when people refer to themselves or others like, “Oh, well you’re a survivor, you’ll get through it” or “I’m a survivor, I am sure something will come up.” Often the survivor-status scenarios involve health, career, relationships, or some combination of these issues.
To be a survivor means to be a person with stamina for enduring a typically unpleasant experience. The energy around the word, and its variants, lacks a certain life-affirming quality. It feels depleted, as if it just barely squeaked by. That may be the case, especially when life or limbs are threatened. To use survive to refer to less cataclysmic situations or states of being, seems like a disservice to the gravity of the word and to the person who chooses to identify with or is given the term.
I’d like to offer these every day survivors, those who battle a lousy boss, a sucky relationship, or those stubborn extra ten pounds and come out the other side a better or more self-aware person, another word for consideration: Thrive. Say it with me: I am a Thriver! Feels pretty good, huh? Ok, so thriver is non-standard English, but it doesn’t matter—it’s a lot more fun than just being a survivor.
To thrive means to be alive. To grow and to flourish. It’s bountiful, that word thrive. Thrive, unlike survive, connects you to your creativity, to your vital essence, to what it means to be human. As a way of being in the world, thriving kicks surviving’s ass.
I’d like to see you, awesome reader, give thrive a try. Wear it around, say it, live it. Adopt it as your new mantra—instead of I will survive (cue Gloria Gaynor), sing I will thrive! And you know, you will do just that, you will thrive.
We are always getting ready to live but never living. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson