Funny the things that pass through your mind when you are simply minding your own business, just having that first cup of coffee in the quiet pre-dawn hours.
This morning my mind decided to take to me to the far away place of my birth, and it asked me, “Would I be a different person if my parents had chosen a different name for me?”
Man, did my mind go wandering off along all the merry little byways upon thinking that thought.
My given name is Patricia, although I have only been called Patricia if I was in trouble. For all of my memories, I have just been Trish, which is a good thing because I am definitely not a Patricia. Patricia is ladylike and proper. Patricia is delicate, refined, calm. I am none of those things.
And this is where my mind went wandering. Had I been called Patricia, instead of Trish, would I be those things? Or if Patti ( most definitely with an i) had been my nickname, would I be a Patti – bubbly, outgoing, outrageous, a hugger? Would a Rose by any other name still be like our not so bright Golden Girl?
Originally my parents thought to name me Elizabeth. Who would I be with that name? Probably more like a Liz than Lizzie, but most certainly not a Betty.
I sometimes think that we are partly who we are because of our names. Certain names hold certain qualities within them and when those names are given, the person so named just has to have those qualities within them.
Take the name Debbie. I have never met a Debbie that I did not like. Debbie is sweet, a good friend, caring and fun. Debbie understands. Or Robert. Never met a Robert I didn’t like either. Robert is a joker who knows when to be serious. Robert is emotionally strong and sees below the surface of things. Bob? Different guy. Bob is still a joker, fun loving, friendly, warm. He’s a beer and BBQ guy.
Is my Will going to grow up and carry the strength of William? Or because we call him anything but William, will he grow up to be friendly, consistent, steady, the comic relief?
Then there is the family name influence. Is there a weight to that on our personalities? William is a family name – goes back generations on my side. Does having a family name put pressure on you? Is there an obligatory sense hiding deep down that says you must live up to the family name?
My middle is a family name. I never really cared for the name, though I loved the woman so much I gave the same middle name to my daughter to honor her. I’m not sure I ever felt a need to live up to grandma’s standards or even to be like her. But I will say that I do have her hardworking nature and I hope I’m as brave as she was.
Celebrities often like to name their children quite unusual names. Their names have no qualities associated with them, so how do they know who to be? Who will Apple and North and Blu Ivy grow up to be? I always feel sorry for these kids anyway. The uniqueness of their name alone tells you who they are – a child of the rich and famous – and forever they are trapped into being someone’s child instead of their own person. If you were to meet Moon Unit, you would immediately think, “oh yeah, Zappa’s kid”.
Names from the past are becoming popular again. Girls names like Grace, Emma, and Lily are filling up the kindergartens. All while Tiffany, Brittany, and Taylor are past being soccer moms and are soon to be grandparents. I’m guessing they won’t be called me-maw.
At the end of all these musings upon names, I have to say that I do believe the name you are given does somewhat define who you are. Maybe it’s because the people who chose your name have certain expectations for you and your life, or maybe it’s just one of those unexplainable phenomenon in the world. I also know that while being named John, Mary, Cecil, Dorothy, or Seven may contribute to who you are, it also doesn’t keep you from being who you want to be.