A name is something that we give a thing or a person or a place to identify it, to help us put it in a box or to label it so that we can say “we know how that fits in how I see things” essentially.
We know things and people in our lives by what we call them. A name can convey so much before a person even has a chance to form their own perception. Warships were named for fierceness and to intimidate. Pilots in the air force were given nicknames that captured their prowess and their personality in battle. Racehorses are named to induce any number of stirrings. A place is named after it’s features or landmarks that are recognizable; Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a real place in Alberta – it automatically brings to mind what must have happened in that place. It’s descriptive and identifying. That’s what a name is supposed to do, isn’t it?
A person’s name is no different. Most cultures and societies – in recent history anyways – tend to lean towards naming a child at birth, or before birth. Great care is given to choose a name for the baby that is being brought into the family and the community. Sometimes, a name is chosen to represent a family line. A family name, traditionally passed to the first born, named after a parent to continue a lineage. Heritage and bloodlines carried on in birth names. Surnames are passed down and a way of marking who you are based on where you sprang forth from is born. An easy way to label and identify and box “who” you are before anyone even knows you personally.
More often though, parents choose a named based on qualities or traits that they want their child to have. They choose names that they associate with those characteristics. A son is given a name that infers strength or resilience, a baby girl is named for beauty or charm. Religious names to instill the desire to be pious or faithful. Children named after royalty to emulate that standing in life. So many reasons. Yet it all comes down to a person being given a name. What happens though when that name just doesn’t “fit” that child? Or what if that child grows and finds their own name that fits who they are better than the one they were given?
Many cultures in the world have a tradition of naming ceremonies to embody this. Rituals that involve a person being given a new name upon entering adulthood or them taking a name, chosen by them, to mark who they are… not who they were perceived as going to be when they were infants or not yet born even. Our culture isn’t one of those though.
So we have nicknames that people take on or derivatives of their “legal” names. Or they go by a middle name or even their last name as a daily moniker.
Having used a nickname myself as my day to day name for many years now, it’s come to a point that I have a hard time answering to my legal name anymore. It just doesn’t fit right. Starting the process to legally change my name feels like not only the right thing, but at the right time. Recently having a discussion with my children about it and the comments from them made it all so clear and easy – as they so often make things. One of them pointed out that he identifies with his name and would never change it – it’s “him” to himself. One of the other says he can’t stand his name and would love to change it – it doesn’t feel like him. I pointed out that that is it in a nutshell.
A name is for the person who it belongs to. It’s time to make the one I’ve chosen, legally mine. To some. it may seem like a trivial or pointless step to take, everyone who I care for and love in my life knows, and calls me by, my preferred name already, what does it matter what my government issued i.d says? The truth is though that to me, being legally and officially identified by my chosen name, is integral to me and my journey.
L.O.L.A – Live Openly Live Abundantly. Born out of a tag line in my emails that I used to use and caught on as a nickname. Adopted years ago and now, simply fits and is me. A name that embodies how I want to live my life and how I strive to. Chosen by me for me.