My Favorite Stories

By: Mallory Ellington

Trigger Warning: Suicidal Thoughts

I started an online English class this week. It's a World Literature class and our professor is focusing our course on answering the question “What is a story?” Which I absolutely love and I am looking forward to seeing this question woven into everything we do. But just like every class we are starting with introductions.

The good news is we don’t have to list fun facts or two truths and a lie (things I always struggle to come up with a response for). Instead, we were asked to write a little something about stories we love. I typed up something nice and simple about enjoying both fiction and nonfiction stories, though I’ve certainly been drawn to nonfiction more recently. But I didn’t have much to say, honestly I haven’t had time to read for fun in a while (although the pandemic certainly helped me out some).

But I realized what my favorite kind of stories truly are after I had submitted my introduction. (One of the perks of always re-thinking and overthinking.) I absolutely adore the stories around me, the stories of the lives I interact with. The stories of hard times and perseverance, the stories of love and life, the stories filled with hard choices and painful outcomes. My favorite stories are the ones when people keep going and keep moving forward. Where people choose to fight. Where people realize their own worth and value and begin to advocate for themselves.

I want to honor those stories, I want to remember them always. Both from my own life and the experiences of those I come in contact with. One way I have chosen to do that is by getting a semicolon tattoo on my wrist. It is a small and simple reminder that there is more to my story. There is more to be said, there is more to be done in my life.

Semicolons are used to bring two complete clauses together to make one cohesive sentence. You could put a period in the place of a semicolon but for whatever reason those two parts need to be a whole. The semicolon reminds me that all parts of my story are important and necessary. A reminder that I am important and necessary.

It is always an interesting moment when I get asked about my semicolon tattoo. Most people think it is odd (some people think it’s a music note) and everyone wants to know why it’s there. They think it must be because I love to write or because I’m an English teacher. Few people are ever actually ready for the real reason. They are joking and lighthearted and suddenly I’m diving deep into choosing life and knowing one’s worth.

The real reason I have a semicolon tattoo on my wrist is because in high school I wanted to end it all, I didn’t want to keep living, I didn’t want my story to continue. But by the grace of God I get to keep living. My story didn’t end in high school. Where I wanted to put a period, God put a semicolon. There was more for my story and there still is more to my story.

And these are the stories that I love the most. Yes, I am biased for my own because I am eternally grateful that I get to live and keep on living. But it is an incredible gift to know of those around me who are making the same choices I am. The choice to live and to keep fighting for today and tomorrow and the day after. Some of my favorite text messages and emails are when I am sent how many days it has been since someone has self-harmed or forced themselves to throw up. I consider a great joy to celebrate all the semicolon moments we each have.

I never want to forget that it is a gift to continue on. A gift to keep writing this story. My life is one of my favorite stories. Your life is one of my favorite stories. And perhaps I’ll share this all with my professor so they’ll know that the best stories are the ones we live.

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