I could take today as an opportunity to remind you that the Oxford comma will never die, no matter how many people try to say it’s outmoded. Or, I could tell you today is an excellent opportunity to double check your resume and cover letter before sending them out. You know that careless grammar and punctuation errors can send you to the “no thanks” stack like, just like everyone else who fails to meet standards or follow instructions.
Yes, technically I did get that warning in.
However, I’m not going to belabor the point or offer a lecture on when to use a semicolon versus a colon (though you can always check out Purdue OWL, should you have a doubt).
Instead, I want to talk about punctuation marks as metaphors, rather than objects that serve a definite, rule-bound function.
These marks decide how we read sentences in our heads, how we express them out loud for effect. They tell our eyes, our mouths, and our minds where to pause for emphasis, where to charge forward, and where to signal doubt.
So, the question is: are there moments in your life that you’re treating as a period, when maybe they should really be more of a dash, a comma, or a question?
Are there activities, skills, and roles you’ve put down, thinking they are finished—that you’re finished—with a tinge of regret? Maybe that feeling is something you should listen to; maybe it’s a reminder that this is a pause rather than a definite break.
Perhaps there are responsibilities, relationships, habits, or even ways that you address yourself that need to come to an end. Maybe they need the finality of a period, rather than the question marks, ellipses, commas, and dashes that you’ve been carrying around. Instead of delaying and agonizing, maybe now is the time to make a definite break.
However, it might be a very good day to take stock, to see where (and who) you are. Are there dreams that you’ve deferred long enough, dreams that need to come forward? Are there tasks and responsibilities that aren’t really your burden to carry any longer?
On this #nationalpunctuationday, check in with yourself. Read through the punctuation that informs your life. There’s nothing wrong with a little editing.
Story by Emilie Duck