One bit of naming advice that I see thrown around a lot is that once the baby is born no one will be able to imagine him or her with any other name than the one that was given to him. That children will always “grow” into their names even if there are times when they dislike it.
Yeah, well, that didn’t happen with me. And it wasn’t a disaster.
You’ve probably guessed that Isadora Vega is not my given name. I’ve been going by nicknames and aliases all my life, so that at one point or another my friends will ask me what my full name is. I remember when I told one of my best friends my real name, and her reaction was similar to everyone else’s:
Snort. “That’s not you.”
“Why is it not me?” I asked.
“I don’t know, it’s just…not.”
My friend and I often commiserate on this subject. She also has an extremely common first name from the 1980′s followed by a middle name that is a French surname. Plus she’s adopted from Korea, so her sense of disconnection from her name is understandable. But what happened to me?
My name was my mother’s pick. Christina was also the name of one of the eight foster children that my Grandmother helped raise. She was just a baby at the time and my mother loved having a little sister. When she became pregnant she remembered the first Christina, and wanted to have that type of “little sister/best friend” bond with me. The Patrice part comes from her favorite cousin Patricia who died before I was born. Why am I not named Patricia? Because then you would have been Christina Patricia, and “that’s just stupid,” according to Mother.
Did I mention that my parents also had my nickname picked out as well? They had every intention of calling me Christy. Somewhere in my parents’ house there is a trunk full of monogrammed crap with the name “Christy” on it.
And then I was born.
As the months went on, it became all too clear that I would never be a Christy. Christy is a bubbly, social, “everybody’s best friend” kind of name, in my opinion. Knowing my parents, that’s probably what they were going for. But I was never everybody’s best friend. I was the weird kid who never talked, living inside her own head even as a baby. So a different nickname was picked (by my grandfather, to my father’s annoyance at the time) and life went on. But I never liked my given name. Nor was I ever particularly interested in being my mother’s “little sister” for all of my life.
But my parents didn’t do anything that they shouldn’t have done. My parents were a young and conventional couple who picked a name that had meaning to them and saw no issue with giving their daughter a name that four other babies had in their neighborhood. They had no idea that a bohemian, artsy Wiccan was going to sprout forth from their collective DNA. There was never anything wrong with the name Christina Patrice, it just never worked for me.
I bring this up because I see a lot of, “I really love the name Galaxy for my son, but what if he doesn’t have the personality to carry it?” Well, then he doesn’t have the personality to carry it. He can always go by Gale. Or by his middle name. Or say his name is Robert. The boy will probably think that not liking your name is normal. And then, when he’s an adult and has fully developed his identity he can decide that his name doesn’t match that identity and change it. In fact, I think more parents would be saner if they just assumed that their children will change their names when they’re adults.
When we pick names we dream about the children that we would like to have, but there’s really no way of knowing who they’re going to be. Some people see that as a reason to stick with traditional names and, naturally, I disagree. I see that as a reason to stop obsessing over whether or not the name will “fit” the child to the point that you veto what makes your heart sing.
I can’t be the only one who has had an experience like this. Have you felt disconnected from your given name? Or are you worried about you’re child “growing into” her name?
Isadora Vega has been blogging about names of Witchy and Pagan interest on Bewitching Names for several years. She is not an expert in names, but her lifelong name geekitude and passion for rarities makes writing about this topic a treat. She is currently based in the Pacific Northwest.