Dearest lovely readers,
How are you all faring? Good, I hope.
Let us get straight into this, names and identities are powerful things. They are the things that make our first impressions to others, they are the package of who we are and how we present ourselves. Our identity is composed of many things from what we wear to how we behave and feel and think; it is our values and morals, our labels. Names therefore are massively important because they are what we identify ourselves with, much like a parcel of food is labelled, our name is what signifies the rest of us. When we introduce ourselves, when our names are called, we answer and we show up.
Our name is a gift
When we are first born, our caregivers give us a name that they feel gives us the right “identification”. It is a gift to say, you are human, you are a person in your own right, we love you and wish you blessings with this. Now for many reasons, names are changed as people grow. This can be due to transitioning into a different gender or changing a surname as we get married. In essence, we can also gift ourselves our identity on our own terms. For example, we change surnames in marriage to symbolise the coming together of a partnership we have chosen.
Having such an identifier is common. Everything has a name. Whether it is a person or a plant, or species of animal. We humans love to categorise and this includes when meeting someone for the first time. We learn so much from the name, we learn how that person will act and behave and make assumptions. We categorise the origin of their name and thus learn more about the person and their history. We can determine if we like people, or what their name might signify. Our brains are hardwired to categorise, it is literally in our nature. Knowing someone’s name makes it easier to categorise someone as a friend, an acquaintance or unfriendly.
Differences are evident
In some cultures, the family name is recognised first before the individual’s name. This is important as it symbolises the rich history of a person’s family, and again they can be categorised. Family is important to our identity as they give us our roots from which we build our foundations. However, I have noticed here in the West this can sometimes be ignored and reverted to our own ways of identification.
My own name
Now to be a bit more personal. My name can be categorised as ordinary and common. My surname is Smith, just to give you an idea. I was given my name simply because my mother liked it which is lovely. She loved a name so much she chose it for her second daughter. My sister has a middle name that she has passed onto her daughter – a hopeful tradition in my eyes. It shows the beauty and options of how we decide people may live their lives.
Given I live in a blended family, I adored my step family’s culture, I asked my step-grandfather to translate my name, and thus I was given a Chinese name which I treasure to this day. I am even contemplating changing my surname to my stepfather’s in honour of him. I feel this decision gives me power over my destiny and feel more true to myself.
Names have so much power, psychology can reduce it to a sound we recognise as us. But names are so much more, we have to sit with them every moment of our lives. There are so many options and reasons why we are given names. They form a massive part of our identity and who we are, how we are meant to live up to them, we respect the gift. Of course, the gift may not always we welcome and people are now free to go by nicknames or change their name altogether, and this is valid. We all have our reasons for changing should the occasion arise. If our identity does not sit right with us it can impact our well-being, our mental state can be hindered.
Names are beautiful.