Warning: I am on cold meds. I feel terrible and I'm really rambly and I have thrown away my letter opener seven times accidentally today. Please, remember as you read this mess that I am just not all there. Please, someone send me a meme or something so I can post something more coherant tomorrow. Consider yourself warned, and boy am I sorry...
I'm fascinated by what I call the psychology of naming. It's a huge responsibility naming someone. Even yourself.
As many of you know, I picked really unusual names for my daughters because I had a really common name and I didn't like sharing it with so many. Which means, my kids will grow up miserable because they don't know anyone else with their weird names and name their kids whatever is the height of fashion. In 1978, Jessica was the 3rd most popular name in the U.S. In 2004, Brynna was the 330th name in the U.S. (only spelled Brenna). In 2008, Maren was the 965th most popular name in the U.S. My poor girls.
I've been surrounded by the issue of self naming lately, though. The choices we make at those moments when our identity is in flux. Like marriage.
I always thought of myself as a hyphenating girl. But I never really liked my last name and I never really liked my father and I didn't know his family. So, when the time came and all the hyphenated versions looked silly, I opted to take The Husband's last name.
I had always seen taking on another person's name as an act of submission. Like slaves used to have to do. But, when it came down to it, I saw it more as an act of alliance. Who do I want to be associated with? My husband or my father. I chose my husband.
But what if? What if I had a normal name that sounded good with a hyphen? Or a healthy relationship with my father? I don't know the answers to those questions because I can't separate myself from my own circumstances.
Many of my friends have changed back to their maiden names after they were divorced. I wonder if I would do that. I think I would want the same last name as my girls. Beyond that, though, I just don't know what I would do.
Our names are a piece of our identity. They don't just reflect who we are, they help to define it. Certainly, I am me, no matter what I choose to call myself. But, would I be the same me if I had been named Zoe or Mathilda or Catherine? Who knows. I think we grow to fit our names in much the same way our names become the descriptors of us.
Undeniably our names say something about who we are and how we choose to use those names says even more. I may be named Jessica, but don't ever, EVER call me that. I am Jessi, thankyouverymuch. And Jessi is a much better descriptor of my personality, my presence. Hyphenating says something. Taking your maiden name back says something. Choosing to stay where you are, or follow the status quo says something? Going by a nickname or insisting on your full name being used says something. Spelling says something. Perhaps something different for each person, but something all the same.
How do you choose names? Those of your kids or yourself or even your dogs. (I once had two cats named Skye and Morgan for Skye Vodka and Captain Morgan Rum. They were an homage to dogs I had as a child named Whiskey and Tequilla.)