The Verbs that Shape You

On the first day of my advanced writing class that serves as professional development for majors in the humanities, I asked students to fill in the blank with a vivid verb: “In my dream career, I _____________.”

What would they write? What verb would they choose? Would they heal, preserve, enlighten? Would they cultivate, protect, help?

Back home at my kitchen table, I could hardly wait to see what they would choose out of the thousands of verbs available to them. I loved reading all the verbs they picked that formulate an adult life. Most chose similar statements like:

I create.

I assist.

I rehabilitate.

I alleviate.

All day, I think about what I’m doing.

I want to envision the verb and let it change how I see myself. Recently, a colleague asked if I loved speaking or writing more. I said, “Neither. I love teaching. The thing that helps me teach is what I love best.”

That clarifying verb changed me that day and connected me again to a passion and a calling.

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