Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Rose by Any Other

I did not care for my name growing up. I was known most often as Heatherache rather than simply Heather, owing to the fact that there was also Heatherem in my class.

Although I suspect that my dislike for my name stemmed less from that added initial than the unfortunate reality that there are no “fun” letters in my name. There are no “Is” to dot with hearts and flowers. There is no “y” to make a flourishing ending. Not even a “g” with which to do the same.

Those frilly additions to writing a name were quite important to me around 7th grade—so much so that I attempted to change my name in order to get those sought-after letters. So, for a few weeks when school started in the fall that I entered 7th grade, I insisted on being Heidi. “It’s my nickname,” I’d explain as the teachers smiled indulgently. Who knows what all the kids thought. It was probably similar to when an Asian boy in my grade left school in the summer as Thong and returned the next fall as Ted. I never could get used to calling him Ted, and no explanation for his name change was ever offered.

In any case, the explaining and insisting grew tiresome after a few weeks as Heidi, and I returned to being plain old Heather.

I suppose most girls go through phases of disliking their names. It probably is a manifestation of the teen angst that puberty unleashes with all those hormones. Dislike my name, dislike myself.

We do become our name don’t we? Minutes, perhaps seconds, after we name our children, we can think of them with no other names. The name instantly fits the newborn despite her lack of ability to focus or do anything other than eat, sleep and poop.

I have an aunt who changed her name as an adult. It has taken many of us years to stop calling her by her birth name. My dad says he will never call her by any name other than her birth name. That name, after all, is the name their mother bestowed upon her.

I suppose changing one’s name is an attempt at starting over fresh, creating a new identity. Babies, when given their names, are starting fresh. There are no rotten experiences yet as Jane or Joe. Their names still hold only promise and possibility.

Although, if I were given a chance to start over fresh, I’d decline. Things look pretty good around here.

11 people like me!:

Jeff said...

So you were Heather H as a kid AND as a wife? You just can't shake it huh?

I personally like the name Heather. I didn't actually know any when I was growing up.

motherbumper said...

I couldn't stand my name at all growing up and tried changing it all the time but now, for some unknown reason that I've never examined (thus unknown), I love my name now.

BTW - I love your name - I always think of the big fields of your name that surrounded my favourite park when I was a kid.

chelle said...

NINE Freakin letters. I HATED my name, no one EVER said it right, it was ALWAYS spelled wrong by others. ugh

Now that I am an adult I adore that my name is unique, people online are always surprised to discover I am not a "Michelle". It really is a pretty name. Though I answer to Chelle all the time now! hehe

Sandy said...

For a while, I spelled my name Sandie, just so I could heart the "I." Mine didn't last long either.

Alex Elliot said...

I disliked my name as a child. The common response was, "Oh my mom has that name". My husband had the same issue with his name being a dad's name. We tried to name our sons more traditional names. However, with everyone giving their kids trendy names, our kids are the only ones we and everyone else know with their names. Lots of people in our generation with their names though!

Domestic Accident said...

There were 5 Lisa's in my 5th grade class. I hated it. I don't mind it now as an adult because I actually know less Lisa's, but when naming our children, I wouldn't consider a name in the top 25. And I really liked Julia.

Brenda said...

Great post! Although I always liked my name (hey, back in the day, it was one of the few things about myself that I DID like!), I remember trying to add swirls, hearts and flowers to my name, too! I also remember writing it with very fat letters, a variation written with a backwards slant and one where I tried incorporating some capital letters. I guess I was finding my identity! These days I'm too busy ... and I find that as I sign checks for credit card receipts that my signature starts out sloppy and just trails off into a line where the last three letters should be! How I've changed!

Damselfly said...

I love this. In my family, I have always been the naming person. I just love names and trying to match someone (usually a pet!) with a name.

You're right -- probably everyone wants a different name at some point. Middle names seem to be especially horrifying for some reason.

Beck said...

I didn't feel like a Rebecca until suddenly one day I DID.

Tracey said...

I went through a phase where I wrote my name as Traci instead of Tracey. I even used a heart to dot the "i."

angi said...

OH lucky ee...I had the swirly G and an I to dot with a heart or a big fat cirle/dot. Now I leave off the swirlies & fancy dots, but I still sign my name with a smiley face :) Can't stop the doodles, I guess!

But, as much as I liked writing my name, I ALWAYS wanted to have someone elses name. There were far too many Angela Marie's when I was growing up *sigh*

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