Today in TPE (aka the class where deep discussions concerning life, the universe and everything in it are held. Or at least at our table they are.) we were discussing the book “Looking For Alaska”, in which one of the main characters ‘Alaska’ reveals her present for her seventh birthday was the ability to choose her own name. My friend Sandra commented that she would hate to be called Alaska and that got us onto a discussion about names and their meanings and impacts in our lives. Sandra mentioned that she believes if she had a different name, or if she had kept her childhood nickname of ‘Sanny’, she wouldn’t be the person she is today.
It got me thinking.
Do our names really play a big part in who we are as people?
Really, think about it: How many nerds named Tiffany have you met? Or popular people named Eugene? There are names we hear and automatically shudder at, and others that everyone loves. Names that remind you of Grandma’s and names that are so unique you’re convinced the parent’s invented it on the spot (which they probably did).
Let’s face it, if your name is Apple you are never going to be as normal as someone named Jack, whether you like it or not. It just won’t be as possible for you to fly under the radar. Of course, this also works as a disadvantage to people named Jack (or any other name that constantly tops the Most Popular Baby Names List) as it’s potentially harder for them to be noticed. Maybe that’s the thinking behind giving your child a bizarre name, though the child (and all of their teachers) will soon get sick of it, I can promise you.
When we’re younger we have ‘cutesy’ nicknames, take Sandra’s ‘Sanny’ for example. Names that are easy for little kids to pronounce and understand. It’d be a bit weird, however, if you were suddenly sixteen and were still going by Emmy as opposed to Emily or Em. Or maybe not weird, as such, but people would assume you were more immature, childish and girly.
There are so many stereotypes and opinions formed around names these days, our name has the potential to have as much influence over us as our environment does.
My real name is Georgia but I have always had more nicknames than you can throw a stick at. Eventually, the majority of people began to call me Georgie and it became a default. Somehow I feel it suits me better; perhaps the ‘e’ sound reflects my childish personality more than the more serious ‘a’?
My parents didn’t choose on my name until the moment I was born. As teachers, it was hard for them to come up with a name that hadn’t been held by a current pupil, or one who stirred up particularly bad memories. They had a shortlist consisting of Samantha, Stephanie and Georgina, before deciding to drop the ‘n’ from Georgina and be done with it. If I was sitting here today, typing as a Sam or a Steph, would I be a different person than the Georgie I have become? I always associate the name Steph with sportiness, so maybe I wouldn’t have been so keen to drop athletic activity as a child. Or maybe being Sam would have never created my love of fangirling. While I have always known a zillion other Georgia’s (Jorja/Jorjia/Jorga/Jorgia/Georga/etc), I have always known more Steph’s. Maybe being one of them would have lead to an individuality complex and to me doing something drastic like getting ten piercings or dying my hair pink just to stand out. Or maybe I’m talking complete and utter crap, and I would be the exact same person as I am today.
My Sub-bff is Quack, which, incidentally, is not actually her real name. Maddison has always been different. And by different I mean she got the nickname Quack by spending a day, uh, quacking. I want you for a second to imagine the ‘popular’ group at your school. Can you imagine one of those girls being called Quack? Yeah, me neither. What about Maddi? See, that one fits. This is her at a party. She could pass as a Maddi here:
This, however, is more the Quack we know and love to spend weekends and holidays with, watching sci-fi and Harry Potter and being total fangirls:
If she’d stuck with Maddi instead of becoming Quack, would this have been different? Or is it her natural personality that allowed her to become Sir Miffington Quack Quack? I’m sure she still could have pulled of Maddi while face painted, or dressed as Draco and dancing like Dr Who, or ‘being stealth’, playing quidditch or, uh, rolling down my hill to prove that rocks and cement couldn’t stop her, but somehow being Quack just adds so much to her, it’s hard to imagine her as anything else anymore.
I don’t know though, what do you think? Do our names help shape who we are, or are they completely irrelevant to who we end up becoming?
frangipani princess xoxo