What's in a Name
I recently read an article about names - what they mean, criteria for choosing a successful name for your future child and how people feel about their own. I love reading articles like these, I always leave with the feeling that name choices seem to show less about who we are as individuals and more of how we wish we were seen. Naming a child or a pet is like an extension of yourself, it's a personal decision and one many of us spend quite a bit of time thinking about (even if we have no plans to add to our families). There are lots of apposing view points and I think the debate regarding common names versus unique names will continue as long as people have names.
One thing we can probably all agree on is that we want to choose names that mean something to us, whether they are family names, favourite characters, role models or figures we look up to, or simply just names we love. For the first time in a long time, I starting thinking about my own name and my own mess of feelings regarding the word people use to refer to me.
Growing up, I did not like my name. It was weird, no one knew how to spell it and not many people had heard it before. Being born in South Africa and emigrating to Australia at the age of ten definitely didn't help my situation. My name is lot more common in my home country and my parents certainly didn't intend to give me an unusual name. I just had to get use to automatically spelling my name out when someone else had to write it down, a habit I still have.
People would often comment on how unusual and interesting my name was, asking what it meant and where it came from. For an uncomfortable and awkward teenager (ie. the standard teen girl), this unwanted attention felt like having a bright spotlight shining unflatteringly onto me. I often felt a certain pressure to live up to my interesting name and that if I was too normal, people might be dissatisfied when they got to know me.
On the other hand, I love meeting people with the same name as me! In my entire life, this has only happened a handful of times. I would immediately feel like we had an instant kinship and become disappointed and embarrassed when the other person clearly did not seem to feel the same way as me. I just assumed that any other gals (or guys) out there with my name would feel the same way. A hard lesson to learn.
Over time, I have come to terms with my name. I like that my name is something special that my parents picked out for me, not because of familial pressure or because of what it meant or any specific plans they had for my future. They just really liked the name. I like that it's not a name you hear everyday yet it's common enough (now) that most people know how to spell it. It sounds familiar yet distinguishable. Finally, it feels like it fits.