On Names.

This is not the first time this has happened. You came home the other day, having shrugged off another stupid attempt to annoy you. It had centred on your name.

I’ll accept this. You don’t have what’s traditionally considered a “girl’s name”. But it is the name of a rather famous actress, and it’s a name that was chosen for you with love, long before you opened your eyes to this big wide world you were born into one stormy evening.

We’ve spoken through this topic many times, and by now, you know all of my automatic responses and answers you can pass on to the next silly buffoon who thinks he/she can take a jab at you for having an “unconventional” name.

A secret

Instead, today, I’m going to tell you a secret – I too, for a long time, did not like my name. When I was very little, I couldn’t pronounce it, so shortened it to a name that would end up being my family nickname. Nowadays, it’s something very few people call me (and heaven help someone who unauthorised attempts to use it). Now, as an adult and in a professional sense, I often use a more traditional, shortened version of my name.

But, at school, I was always internally upset at the sheer length of my name. By how many people had ‘cooler’ names than I did. By how many people I would discover that had the same name as me. I felt slightly affronted by it, because my name ended up being something common. In my teens, when the Internet became a de rigueur part of my life, it irritated me even more, because I suddenly realised how many people out there had “my” name. To this point, I even ‘rebelliously’ elected to have “another name”, something that many of my mates responded to, and a particular set of them still refer to me by that name. Nowadays I giggle at that, but it is a sweet reminder of the journey I’ve had with my own name.

As an adult, I like my name. The way it rounds in my mouth, and the way it shapes itself in the mouths of people who call out for me, who love me, and who I love. I now revere it, for its regal connotations are apparent to me, and it’s no longer something I shy away from. I’m proud of my name, chosen by my parents (thanks to some curtains) and it’s symbolic of their love for me. I feel the strength of it, and claim it for my own self.

Name

I don’t expect you to accept this right now. Heck, I don’t even expect you to experience this journey right now. You have your own journey to traverse with your name. You have a whole lifetime to experience with this name. How you choose to define, or not define yourself in line with your name, is something only you can do. You can change it one day, if you like. You can elect another name and use it, try it on for size and then try another one if you like. I did it, and so can you.

Coming Home

I came home to my name when I was ready. Nowadays, I do define myself by my name, but that’s the very unique definition I’ve carved for myself, that’s remarkably different to the ones the world seems to have created. I’ll support you in every definition you choose, and every single one you ditch.

This is your journey, darling. Your name, your definition. Don’t worry your head about someone who can’t find anything wrong with you, so he has to pick on your name.

Mama.

16 thoughts on “On Names.

  1. Beautiful! I hated my name throughout my life, especially because of the “unusual” spelling that people still don’t get right. I hated that I always had to spell it out so that it would be written correctly and I hated that my name lead to loads of teasing because I was overweight as a child. Now that my kids have been lovingly allocated their names, and my daughter recently decided that she didn’t like hers, it was hard not to show how much it hurt my feelings (because I obviously chose the name because I loved it). Thank you for reminding me that it is just part of the growing up process and maybe she will learn to appreciate it the way you did. 🙂

  2. I’ve also had a long struggle with my own name. The name on my birth certificate is not the name my parents gave me. It took me a long time to reclaim my name but now that I have, it’s helped me to better define who I am and who I want to be.

  3. Such a beautiful post about you daughter’s name. I used to be teased a lot because of my name as a child. My father once explained to me that if people are teasing me about my name they really must be unable to find anything else worth teasing me about because of how awesome I was in every other aspect of my life. From then on I bore the teases and jokes as a badge of honour and even today I have reverted back to my full name despite so many people knowing me by a shortened version of it.
    My child has a beautiful name, which few tease her about, but it is long and very difficult to spell, and people often do get it wrong. She struggled with learning to write it because so many others have shorter and easier names.
    Now she loves it. We have had discussions about her surname now though, because she wants to know why she can’t have mine at the end of her name, because she was given her dad’s on back when I believed he and I would always be together, and wasn’t prepared to fight with him over including my name to her already long name ( I insisted she have a strong second name too, and chose one which caused quite some consternation, but now I am told has been given as a family name to her first full cousin on her father’s side of the family – oh, I laughed and laughed about that but that is a long story for another time!).
    I have told her when she is 16, and has to apply for her identify documents she can choose which surname or which main names she wants, but until then she is to enjoy the lovely names she was given.

      1. She also has a “Hidden name” given to her at her Saining, which also serves as a password for emergencies. But that too is a long story worthy of a blog post if I ever get around to writing it.

  4. Unusual names ftw!

    Having a name that you can’t find on those name mugs/pens (and all those other bits) can be a pain, especially because people either call me KC or your name or my name spelt the more traditional way. Either way it is my name…even if it is just because my parents couldn’t spell KC 😉

  5. Have you ever met another Gaelyn? Me neither. As a youngster it always bothered me that it was so unusual. But after I finished school I realised what a leasing it was to have such an unusual and unique name. I absolutely love it now, especially because of its meaning (the rainbow in life’s storm). Add to that my awesome surname of Cokayne and I reckon no one will beat me in the name game!

  6. HAHAHAH! I had a right out loud laugh at this one, because I have been there a million times! I did hate my name too, as no one ever got it right! I also grew to love my name and not so long ago, after being called one of my many, many nicknames, a friend said to me that it wasn’t right to shorten my name. People must learn to say my name properly, not take the easy way our, or they were no friend at all! To this day, she has always called me by my full name! Thank you for writing this beautiful piece and I hope Miss C reads it soon and appreciates her “handle” that much more! XXX

  7. I always hated my name growing up, until one day my Mom sat me down and explained exactly how my name came about. They took the ‘JO’ from John, which is my dad’s name and took the ‘LEEN’ from Colleen my moms name. My opinion changed right there, I felt very special. 🙂

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